Fabiola Santiago

Fabiola Santiago: Florida lawmakers run roughshod over women’s reproductive rights

Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Doral, standing, and Rep. Jose R. Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, sitting at right.
Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Doral, standing, and Rep. Jose R. Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, sitting at right.

Some of us didn’t take seriously the backwater Florida version of the aptly dubbed Republican “War on Women.”

The attempts to run roughshod over women’s reproductive rights were crude and ineffective.

There was the up-and-coming Miami Lakes Republican, Jose R. Oliva, who on the House floor berated a Planned Parenthood representative over a hypothetical embryo on a physician’s table, post-abortion. With federal protections firmly in place for decades and investigations clearing the women’s health agency of wrongdoing, such hysterics were as easy to dismiss as the graphic abortion-porn billboards along the Turnpike.

Count me guilty of underestimating the capacity of men who love guns and killing cuddly animals for sport to carry on a relentless battle to take away a woman’s right to address an unwanted pregnancy. They interpreted women’s silence (based on the hope that brains might prevail over demagoguery in a fight they can’t legally win) as permission to proceed.

Now here we are at the onset of what’s shaping up to be a bloody battlefield in the Florida Legislature as lawmakers embark on the path to ban almost all abortions in the state.

A House criminal justice panel chaired by Carlos Trujillo, R-Doral, voted 8-3 Monday afternoon to move forward the far-reaching legislation HB 865, which would make performing an abortion or operating an abortion clinic a first-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Trujillo is also the sponsor of a swiftly moving bill that seeks to regulate abortion clinics as surgical centers; some may have to close.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, aims to enlighten us on the beliefs of the “Personhood Movement” that’s fanning the flames of this new effort: “The Legislature finds that all human life comes from the Creator, has an inherent value that cannot be quantified by man, and begins at the earliest biological development of a fertilized human egg.”

If human life comes not from the fertilization of egg and sperm, but from the Creator, then it follows that He also is responsible for granting life to Florida’s bears and all the other endearing animals Republicans like to hunt on their fund-raising party hunting trips to Texas.

But logic and science are lost on macho men whose dream is to rule wombs.

It didn’t matter either that on Monday morning the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a similar abortion ban in North Dakota.

The Republicans of Florida, social program tight-wads, don’t want to fund programs for the working poor — people who did have their babies! — but they’re willing to foot the bill for a legal fight on an issue that isn’t a state matter.

Why? This is an election year. They’re aiming to please the evangelical ultra conservatives who run the airways of rural Florida. And what better card to play than telling them a Republican president would appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court who would overturn the law of the land, Roe vs. Wade?

In turn, Florida women can no longer dismiss the self-righteous voices in Tallahassee when they take up this most personal of issues. If left to their manipulative tactics, their show will go on — and they’ll harass women and providers, and in the process, create an ambience of intolerance in the state.

Don’t let them trample hard-fought rights.