Senate Bill 300 in the Florida Senate, formally known as the Pregnancy and Parenting Support bill, has come incredibly close to making its way to Governor Ron DeSantis’s (R-FL) desk, which would likely sign the bill into law.
Currently, in Florida, there is a 15-week abortion ban that stands as the law of the land. This bill will look to make it a six-week ban.
Perhaps the most interesting moment on the Senate floor occurred on Thursday when there was a theology-based amendment proposed by the Democrats. Their amendment to the bill would seek to allow a religious exemption to those of perhaps the Jewish faith, which is more lukewarm and less explicit about the rights of unborn children and abortion itself, compared to the cut-and-dry interpretations of Christianity.
For example, My Jewish Learning puts it like this: “Elsewhere, the Talmud indicates that the ancient rabbis regarded a fetus as part of its mother throughout the pregnancy, dependent fully on her for its life — a view that echoes the position that women should be free to make decisions concerning their own bodies. At the same time, feticide is prohibited by Jewish law, though there is disagreement over the exact source of this prohibition and how serious an infraction it is.”
The Democratic argument, led by Minority Leader Lauren Book (D) is that just like the religious exemptions that were granted for the COVID-19 vaccinations, the same affordance should be given on this topic.
“Based on the First Amendment to the Constitution, where we all have the right to practice their own religion, I believe that this law will restrict my ability, my daughter’s ability, and all those of Jewish faith to not be able to follow their own religion,” said State Senator Tiny Polsky (D).
In reference to the distinction between the rationale for granting religious exemptions for the vaccine and not for an abortion, State Senator Danny Burgess (R) gave his reply.
“Our faith guides us on this issue. There’s no doubt and that’s no secret. And I respect your faith guiding you on this issue too, immensely…But where I draw that distinction is that the science shows that we have at six weeks a heartbeat.”
Sen. Book stated, “Let’s be clear. This is what’s being pushed: Your religion, your religious beliefs. Why don’t ours matter? Our religion says something different. We believe something different. How is that not okay?...Why are we not entitled to the same exemption? Is it because there are fewer of us? It’s not okay.”
The amendment failed in a vote by a tally of 28-12.