POLITICS

Florida State Senator: Ban Abortion Votes Unless Women Make Up Half The Chamber

State Sen. Lauren Book (D) said "older white men" shouldn't be making all the decisions about women's reproductive rights.

A Florida state senator wants to ban the state’s legislative bodies from voting on anti-abortion bills unless at least half of the people in the chamber are women. 

State Sen. Lauren Book (D) filed SB 60 on Friday, which would allow Florida residents to vote on a state constitutional amendment to enshrine the prerequisite. 

“If we’re [women are] not being represented in the legislative body, I don’t think that older white men should be deciding what and how reproductive health care is looked at and decisions that are life-altering made,” Book told HuffPost. 

Both Florida chambers currently have a supermajority of men ― 70% in both the House and the Senate, according to USA Today.

The measure has been in the works since Alabama passed its extreme abortion bill in May, which banned all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest. Book said some Florida House members have discussed introducing a bill that would be similar to Alabama’s.

“You can’t tell me that there is a more cruel and unusual punishment than requiring a survivor of rape or incest to carry a baby to term if they don’t choose that path,” said Book, who is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

Florida state Sen. Lauren Book (D) filed a bill that would prevent state lawmakers from voting on abortion bills if women do
Florida state Sen. Lauren Book (D) filed a bill that would prevent state lawmakers from voting on abortion bills if women do not make up at least half of the chamber.

Florida, like many other states with GOP-controlled legislatures, has spent the past year pursuing anti-abortion measures, though no bills were ultimately voted on. A bill banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, filed by state Rep. Mike Hill (R) in January and state Sen. Dennis Baxley (R) in February, would charge doctors who perform the procedure with a third-degree felony. Hill told the Tallahassee Democrat he will file the bill again in the 2020 session.

But Florida, whose state constitution includes certain protections for abortion, is where many southerners come to access safe and legal abortions and reproductive health care services, Book said. 

Women will always seek out abortion, even if there are restrictive laws, she added. 

“We need to make sure that it’s healthy, we need to make sure that it’s safe,” Book said. “We need to make sure that there’s access.”

CORRECTION: A previous subheadline on this piece misstated the last name of the state senator as Block. 

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