TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — With a little more than two weeks before this year's lawmaking session begins in Florida, there is still no abortion bill on the books — but don't rule it out.
House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, said Thursday that Republicans are "working toward it."
Since before the midterm elections, there has been speculation the Legislature's GOP majority — now supermajority — would offer a 12-week or even six-week ban. Gov. Ron DeSantis has also said he'd support "great life legislation" without offering specifics.
"We have differences of opinion, and we'll find a landing spot that hopefully strikes a balance," Renner said. "We're currently working toward it and taking input from everyone, but right now we have the bills that we've talked about so far that are filed, so that bill is not filed."
It's true there is nothing that even mentions abortion in the growing pile of bills ahead of the regular session. But it was day one of the 2022 lawmaking assembly when we got Florida's current abortion law, HB 5, a ban after 15 weeks without exception for rape and incest.
Renner suggested a new proposal could drop after the gavel does.
"I expect that sometime this session we will — we may see that topic come up and look forward to addressing it," Renner said.
That is a bit further than what Sen. President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, keeps telling reporters. She has said Florida needs to wait for the state's high court to weigh in on an ongoing legal challenge.
"We can't really do anything until the [Florida] Supreme Court weighs in on the 15-week — as you all know — it's in litigation," Passidomo said in December. "If the Supreme Court strikes it down, we start over again."
Meanwhile, Florida's Democrats remain leery. Many are uncertain of the future and what will happen and are worried about the consequences of further limits to abortion access.
Others, like Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-North Miami, think a potential presidential run by Gov. Ron DeSantis is forcing Republicans to avoid rocking the boat too much this year.
"I don't think that women's reproductive rights is an incredibly urgent issue for him," Pizzo said. "It's whatever he's being told is polling well or would distinguish — make him distinct from any potential candidates going forward."
DeSantis has denied using polls to make decisions. He has also swatted at the suspicion he's running. Though, like the prospect of an abortion bill, we may find out more when the session gavels in on March 7.