Protests erupt in FL House as lawmakers consider restrictive 6-week abortion ban

By: - April 13, 2023 12:35 pm

House Democratic lawmakers and abortion-rights activists protest on 4th floor rotunda of the Florida Capitol building on April 13, 2023. Credit: Danielle J. Brown

Multiple disruptions, demonstrations and protests erupted Thursday morning as abortion rights protesters threw handfuls of stickers and small pieces of paper on lawmakers as House members tried to discuss the 6-week abortion ban.

By noon, no one was able to be in the House gallery except lawmakers and press because of the disruption.

Stickers and small papers thrown at lawmakers by abortion-rights protesters on April 13, 2023. Credit: Danielle J. Brown

“Abortion is healthcare!” shouted a protester who had been sitting in the House gallery at the time. The stickers provided information on how to receive abortion pills through mail, which would be banned under the 6-week abortion ban being considered by the House.

There were a couple other outbursts, meaning yelling, during the House hearing, but the demonstration and stickers were the final straw. The public had to be cleared from the House chamber for the rest of the day, according to security from the Florida Capitol building in Tallahassee.

As people left the House gallery, a couple dozen protesters convened on the 4th floor rotunda in the Capitol. Almost a dozen Democratic House members joined the protesters briefly to sing ‘Lean on Me’ by Bill Withers, which has become a rallying cry for the abortion rights activists in the 2023 legislative session.

House lawmakers returned to business after a 10-minute recess to continue proposing, and ultimately rejecting, more than 50 amendments offered to make the 6-week abortion ban less restrictive and burdensome on those who are seeking an abortion in Florida.

The bill, SB 300, has already been approved by the full Senate, and House Speaker Paul Renner indicated that the Democrats would not be able to change the bill any further.

Such proposed changes, which were not adopted, included renaming the bill to “The Forced Pregnancy” Act. Another would have issued an annual audit of pregnancy support centers that would be funded by the bill.

One Democrat offered an amendment that would require so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” to provide medically and legally accurate information and ensure that the information is not religious or coercive in nature.

The full House will likely debate and give final approval on SB 300 after debate on the 6-week abortion bill, potentially as soon as Thursday afternoon.

The bill also includes prohibitions on using Telehealth services to obtain an abortion.

About two weeks ago, the Senate also saw tension and disruptions when senators were discussing the 6-week abortion ban.

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Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown

Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University. She has served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine and Rowland Publishing. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat.