Dems May Score a Big Win: Florida's Wrongful Death Bill On Life Support

Dems May Score a Big Win: Florida's Wrongful Death Bill On Life Support

A bill that critics claim defines fetal personhood was suddenly postponed, potentially killing the bill before it reaches the floor

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
February 26, 2024

TALLAHASSEE, FL—A bill, which critics claim defines fetal personhood, was suddenly postponed before its final committee, raising questions about whether the bill will pass the Legislature and become law. If it is not rescheduled, the bill will be proclaimed dead.

“I have requested that Senate Bill 476, Civil Liability for the Wrongful Death of an Unborn Child, be temporarily postponed at this time," Republican Sen. Erin Grall said in a statement Monday afternoon. "It is my understanding this is the first time this issue has been considered by the Florida Legislature. Although I have worked diligently to respond to questions and concerns, I understand there is still work that needs to be done."

"It is important we get the policy right with an issue of this significance.”

SB 476 was scheduled in the Senate Rules Committee on Monday, but the Rules Chair suddenly announced that Sen. Grall had requested her bill be postponed. This was supposed to be the last Rules Committee of the 60-day Legislative Session, and unless Senate President Kathleen Passidomo allows for another Rules Committee, SB 476 is officially dead. With only a week and a half left in the session, the bill is running out of time to become law.

Filed by Sen. Grall, the measure allows parents to collect damages for the wrongful death of their unborn child, granting rights to a fetus at all development stages. A recently filed amendment specifies that the bill does not apply to mothers who get a legal abortion, though critics still worry its broad language may impact IVF treatments and restrict reproductive rights.

Following the Alabama Supreme Court's decision that frozen embryos are classified as "extrauterine children", Florida Democrats worry that SB 476 will cause similar IVF restrictions in the Sunshine State.

"Really what this is, is a backdoor attempt at personhood," Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book said at a press conference Monday. "Any time you start talking about personhood, IVF is on the table...this is a reproductive rights issue."

She continued, asking, "We've been working with the sponsor, but she doesn't seem interested in taking some of the suggestions that we have. So it begs the question: what are you actually doing?" It appears that Sen. Grall may now be listening. Her bill's last-minute postponement may have signed its death warrant, signifying a big win for Democrats and abortion advocates.

The Florida Supreme Court is set to decide on the "Amendment to Limit Government Interference with Abortion”, which would protect Floridians' right to an abortion, by April 1.

The Court still must decide on the state's 15-week abortion ban, passed in 2022. If it is ruled constitutional, Sen. Grall's six-week ban will automatically go into effect.

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Liv Caputo

Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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