Without question, Republicans dominated the 60-day session. Aside from banning sanctuary cities and expanding the "guardian program," GOP lawmakers passed an assignment of benefits reform package that includes several reforms aimed at curtailing fraudulent insurance lawsuits.
With these three wins, Republicans in the state solidified this legislative session as a victory for conservatives and Floridians demanding accountability in the state. These victories set the stage for the upcoming 2020 election, and could serve as a precursor to Florida turning solid red.
While these triumphs on the political right are praiseworthy, there is a glaring mistake that is being quietly brushed under Florida's political rug.
When it comes to stopping abortions, Republicans aren't practicing what they preach.
Two proposals (SB 792 and HB 235), the "fetal heartbeat" bills, were terminated by leadership in the same manner innocent lives are terminated every year in Florida — never being given a chance.
Introduced by Sen. Dennis Baxley and Rep. Mike Hill, the bills would've banned abortions once a fetal heartbeat was detected — usually around the six week mark. The measure would've also made it a felony for any person who “knowingly or purposefully performs or induces an abortion on a pregnant woman with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of the unborn human being whose fetal heartbeat has been detected."
The pro-life bill is a no-brainer for conservatives wanting to set an important precedent in a time where states like New York, Virginia, and Illinois are attempting to expand late-term abortions.
In New York, so long as a licensed practitioner acts in "good faith," a baby can be murdered in the womb up to birth in order "to protect the patient's life or health." The word "health" is not clearly defined within the legislation, leaving it open-ended. According to the language, this could include mental health.
"A health care practitioner licensed, certified, or authorized under title eight of the education law, acting within his or her lawful scope of practice, may perform an abortion when, according to the practitioner's reasonable and good faith professional judgment based on the facts of the patient's case: the patient is within twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient's life or health," reads the legislation.
Virginia is also trying to pass similar legislation, which would loosen restrictions on late-term abortions and encourage infanticide.
Illinois is going a step further, with Democratic lawmakers wanting to expand abortion access and repeal the parental notification requirements in cases involving minors.
Although highly praised by members in both chambers, ending abortions in Florida has lost all momentum, and all signs point to it being aborted after the Friday deadline. Meanwhile, "heartbeat" bills have been moving through chambers in states across the U.S., like Tennessee and Missouri. with constitutional conservatives leading the charge to protect the life on the child.
As it stands, "heartbeat" bills have been adopted in Kentucky and Mississippi, and a similar proposal in Georgia is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp. Even Ohio, a battleground state every election, became the third state this year to pass a "heartbeat" bill.
Louisiana has a bill that is gaining momentum in their legislature — recently winning approval in a Senate committee.
With the clock officially running out on these bills, the Sunshine State is now the black sheep when it comes to states taking a stand against abortions. For once, Florida had the opportunity to not be the laughingstock when it comes to saving lives and setting a pro-life trend. Unfortunately, Republican leaders chose not to defend lives, and now Florida must address the elephant in the room.
Rep. Hill, a primary sponsor in the House, was vocal about this bill, voicing his frustration on the legislature not making it a top priority this session.
"I'm not sure why saving innocent lives is not a legislative priority. There is a movement across the heartland of American that supports and is passing the heartbeat detection bill," Rep. Hill told RoundTable Politics. "Florida should be part of that momentum and put an end to this holocaust."
While other legislatures have passed "heartbeat" bills, Florida's reluctance to even hold a hearing says a lot about the amount of gridlock at the Capitol. The legislature's "deer in a headlights" approach is not a good look for a state that could've led the charge in saving unborn lives.
When we look back on the 2019 legislative session, it'll be easy to pick out the successes. Legislators like Sen. Joe Gruters and Rep. Bob Rommel carried the flag for conservatives, and won hard fights against illegal immigration and AOB abuse. Nothing should be taken away from their efforts, or their contribution to the conservative cause.
But won't be easy for Florida is looking in the mirror the day after session ends, knowing that the failure to pass ANY legislation aimed out preventing abortions will only lead to more lives being murdered. This is a black eye that will never heal. A wound that will never shut. Blood stains that cannot be washed away.
Florida could've saved lives, but instead, chose to throw them away.