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Pressure mounts for further abortion restrictions during Florida's special session

'If the governor gets behind it, they will do it,' Rep. Anthony Sabatini says
Posted at 5:13 AM, May 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 05:13:52-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — With Roe v. Wade's end looking imminent, more of Florida's pro-life advocates are urging that the Legislature further restrict abortion in the upcoming special session on property insurance.

Some even prayed for it outside the statehouse Thursday morning as Florida observed the National Day of Prayer.

If Roe v. Wade is reversed, states get autonomy over abortion rights. That means Florida's new 15-week abortion ban is set to take effect in July. Some, however, want more.

Those we spoke with at Thursday's prayer rally in Tallahassee supported a fetal heartbeat bill, halting abortions at about six weeks.

Rep. Anthony Sabatini speaks on abortion rights
State Rep. Anthony Sabatini speaks about his support for the passage of the heartbeat bill in Florida.

"Once a heart starts beating, and a mother sees that sonogram — or anyone sees it — that is a living soul," said Martha Hoover, an attendee of rally.

Advocates hope the Legislature may have softened after declining to take up a heartbeat bill earlier in the year.

It was carried by state Rep. Webster Barnaby, R-Orange City, and modeled after a policy enacted by the Texas Legislature.

One of the supporters, state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Clermont, was eager to try again.

The far-right Republican has denounced GOP leadership for not making the policy a priority and is now calling on the governor to push for it.

"Everything that gets done comes from the governor's office," Sabatini said. "The governor basically tells the legislative leadership what he wants and they do it because they fear him because he's a very popular and great leader. If the governor gets behind it, they will do it."

Rep. Anna Eskamani speaks on abortion rights
Rep. Anna Eskamani makes a plea for voters to take action if abortion rights continue to be in danger in Florida.

So far, Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn't really weighed in on further restrictions. When asked for his opinion this week, he has touted the 15-week ban and said it's on firm legal ground.

"It's wrong to read the federal Constitution to completely prohibit any pro-life protections," DeSantis said Tuesday. "We'll see what the federal U.S. Supreme Court does, and then, obviously, we're going to see some litigation on the state level with the protections that we've done."

Opponents are planning challenges under the state's broad privacy laws. Democrats, meanwhile, are pressing voters to act if judges don't, saying women's health care is at risk.

"At the end of the day, we have to look beyond that," said Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, during a recent news conference. "We have to look at elections. We have to look at talking about this at the doors and making this an issue that voters are plugged into."

Requests for comment from both Senate and House leadership weren't immediately returned. For now, the scope of May 23's special session remains property insurance.