Florida leaders argue over holding special session to strengthen state abortion laws

Rep. Anthony Sabatini, Rep. Anna Eskamani discuss potential special session in regards to state anti-abortion bill

Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a Republican who represents Lake County’s District 32 in the Florida House of Representatives, is calling for a special legislative session after the landmark Roe v. Wade decision was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court Friday.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a Republican who represents Lake County’s District 32 in the Florida House of Representatives, is calling for a special legislative session after the landmark Roe v. Wade decision was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court Friday.

He wrote a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis following Friday’s historic decision, which ended nearly 50 years of abortion protection with a majority opinion penned by Justice Samuel Alito.

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The ruling comes as part of the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which was a challenge to Mississippi’s law which banned abortions after 15 weeks, and cascades the decision down to the states, allowing each one to decide their own laws surrounding abortion, and potentially other reproductive rights.

“We need an emergency session. We know that Florida is allowed to go a lot further on the issue of abortion now, and so we need to start proposing stronger measures to protect the lives of the unborn,” Sabatini told News 6.

Sabatini said he would like to see stronger pro-life legislation passed.

“The heartbeat bill is just one of many things we can do to stop abortion. I believe life begins at conception and we should totally make abortion illegal in the state of Florida,” Sabatini said.

The anti-abortion bill, called “Florida Heartbeat Act,” was introduced by Rep. Webster Barnaby (R-Deltona). It would have prevented abortions if a heartbeat was found, however, the bill died in subcommittee.

“They tried to use the excuse that the Supreme Court hadn’t weighed in on the issue yet, so it was a legally murky area of the law. We now know that we can not only pass that bill, but go even further and actually make life protected from conception, which is what we should do in Florida,” Sabatini said.

Orlando Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando) also called for action after the ruling came down.

“Abortion is about freedom. It’s about options, self-determination and a free society,” Eskamani said.

At a virtual news conference, Eskamani told people to get involved, whether it be in the form of volunteering with a local abortion provider or volunteering with a campaign.

News 6 asked Eskamani about Sabatini’s call for a special session, to which she responded, “I have no doubt that if he calls for a special session, any Republican who supports it will be challenged at the ballot box.”

News 6 Political Analyst Jim Clark said a potential special session could end up being a blow to Republicans during the upcoming midterm elections.

“Do they call a special session, (or) do they wait until January for the regular session?” he said. “I think a lot of Republicans would rather not talk about this issue going into the election.”

Eskamani is also attended a rally in Orlando Friday evening to “discuss the potential devastating impact of this decision, the status of abortion in Florida, and what we need to do to protect abortion access in our state.”


About the Author:

Lauren Cervantes was born and raised in the Midwest but calls Florida her second home. She joined News 6 in August 2019 as a reporter.