OPINION: Florida abortion bill ignores civil liberty

HB 5 filed earlier this month aims to ban abortions after 15 weeks, completely ignoring legal precedent and the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. CREATIVE COMMONS

The Florida House of Representatives had its first reading of HB 5 on Jan. 11. This bill — along with its Senate counterpart SB146 — would serve as a statewide abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

HB 5 is an invasion of civil liberty and unjustly applies personal ideology to medical care. Florida constituents must implore their representatives to fight for American freedom.

The bill — filed by Representatives Erin Grall and Kelli Stargel — would ban abortion of a fetus over 15 weeks unless two doctors agree there is an abnormality fatal to the fetus or mother, similar to the Texas Heartbeat Bill passed in May 2021. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

Roe v. Wade (1973) is the landmark Supreme Court decision regarding abortion, and the legal precedent for this debate. The court found the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s right to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. 

The court held that in most cases, restriction of abortion violates a person’s constitutional Right of Privacy, which is guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

As such, HB 5, while not outright banning abortion, encroaches on the decidedly constitutional right of a person to choose, and is an attempt to sidestep legal precedent and the court’s interpretation of The Constitution.

Supporters of this bill argue that it supports life, and that fetuses are aware and can feel pain.

“I have not seen that particular [bill], but obviously I’m supportive of 15 weeks. I think that’s very reasonable and I think that’s very consistent with being supportive of protecting life,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis in a Jan. 12 press conference.

The beginning of life is an ideological debate, and as such is difficult to apply to legislation without encroaching on the beliefs and personal freedoms of others. 

The conclusion widely agreed upon in the medical community, stemming from a 2009 study by pediatric researchers Hugo Lagercrantz and Jean-Pierre Changeux, is that fetuses begin to gain consciousness as early as 24 weeks. This is also the current cutoff for abortions in Florida.

Medical legislation should be based in scientific research, not in the popular opinion of ideological debate.

As the constituents of Florida, it’s crucial that we reach out to our local representatives and speak out against the impediment of personal freedom in our state. Popular ideology cannot trump individual freedom.