Lawmakers file legislation guaranteeing right to abortion

Democratic state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would guarantee an individual’s right to an abortion as the U.S. Supreme Court weighs cases that would allow states to eliminate access to the procedure almost completely.

Sen. Lori Berman of Lantana and Rep. Ben Diamond of St. Petersburg filed bills last week (HB 709/SB 1036) that would bar any individual, state or local governments from interfering with the right to get an abortion. The identical bills also have a mechanism that allows legal action against any individual or any entity standing in the way of someone’s right to choose this health care.

“I think it’s really important that we take proactive steps to make sure women’s reproductive rights are protected,” Berman said, noting that her bill gives the same protection to the decision to choose or refuse contraception or sterilization. “The bill says that your reproductive rights are your health, privacy and equality.”

The legislation, called “Reproductive Health Care Rights,” is a counterpoint to another bill (HB 167) which would prohibit abortion after a heartbeat is detected. Berman said her legislation was not prompted by Republican Rep. Webster Barney’s bill so much as the current cases now in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The highest court in the country is hearing arguments this week about a Mississippi law that prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of gestation. The court is also expected to issue a ruling on the Texas “heartbeat” abortion ban that prohibits abortion after six weeks’ gestation.

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