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Monday, April 22, 2024
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Understanding all of Florida’s legislation is overwhelming; bills pass during a short period and it seems there is too much to keep up with. However,  it is crucial to know how legislation is currently impacting Floridians. A few notable policy areas for the 2023 legislative session include abortion, gender-affirming care and immigration. 

Let’s break down some of Florida’s 2023 legislation.

The Pregnancy and Parenting Support Bill, otherwise known as the notorious six-week abortion ban, was passed and signed into law July 1st. However, it has not officially gone into effect. 

In September, in the Florida Supreme Court, there will be oral arguments surrounding the legality of the abortion legislation. In late October, it is expected to go into effect. This not only bans abortions past the six-week mark but also increases funding for crisis pregnancy clinics to $25 million.

Six weeks is not enough time to tell if someone has missed their period. Moreover, there are expectations if the individual can prove they were raped and obtaining proof of rape is not easy.

A six-week ban is extreme and is essentially a total ban. 

The ban may be claimed to be a compromise by the Florida Legislature; this is not true. An added layer to the ban is that in Florida patients are required to do 2 trips at least 24 hours apart before they can receive care. 

Another significant piece of legislation is the Treatment for Sex Reassignment, which went into effect  May 17. Under this law, minors are banned from seeking gender-affirming care and adults seeking gender-affirming care have significant restrictions. 

This law defines gender-affirming care as a threat and will affect the most vulnerable individuals. 

In Florida, there has been a culture war created against the transgender community. During the 2023 legislative session, a Republican legislator compared transgender individuals to mutants. On top of this, the bill creates extreme criminal and professional penalties for providers who violate the legislation. 

The combination of this extreme gender-affirming care and the six-week abortion ban creates significant barriers to healthcare, especially for marginalized communities. 

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Gov. Ron DeSantis also signed a new immigration law into effect and has said the bill was designed to combat illegal immigration and the Biden border crisis. Businesses throughout the state of Florida have said they have been losing business due to the legislation. The immigrant population of Florida makes up a significant portion of the agriculture, construction and hospitality industries. The ACLU of Florida and the Farmer Work Association of Florida both said the immigration bill is the cruelest immigration bill passed in Florida. 

With divisive legislation and constant cultural wars, Florida’s political culture can feel like doomsday waiting to happen. 

These cultural wars created in DeSantis’ campaign and presidential ads emphasizes a narrative of freedom against the so-called woke. This can make people feel a sense of political fatigue, disconnecting from politics and policy as a whole. 

As college students, it can feel impossible to be taken seriously. UF College Democrats  provides members a place to make a real difference. 

During the first week of school, we collected over 75 signatures for the abortion ballot initiative in just one day. Having a support system that provides a sense of community and fulfillment is a big part of this. Find your support system for your passions, whether that be UF College Democrats or another great organization on campus. 

It is important to understand what we can do and celebrate even what appears to be the smaller wins. For example, with the abortion ballot initiative, the campaign Floridians Protecting Freedom has made significant progress to get an abortion on the ballot in 2024. This can reverse the adverse effects of the 15-week and six-week abortion ban. 

Above all, civic engagement is crucial in these troublesome times. If nobody is watching or cares, legislation will continue to become more extreme each year. We can not let that happen. Floridians deserve better.

Paulina Trujilo is a UF political science and women’s studies senior and serves as the UF College Democrats public relations director.

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