New abortion laws trigger local debate, efforts anew


The Alabama governor's signature late Wednesday on legislation carrying a near total ban on abortion, has brought the issue back into the spotlight in South Florida and across the nation.

The Alabama law becomes the nation's most restrictive and follows approval of so-called heartbeat abortion laws in four other states, also this year.

“This is our window of opportunity," said Willy Guardiola, president of Palm Beach County Right-to-Life League.

“It’s very concerning, it’s heartbreaking,” said Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates in West Palm Beach.

The two very different reactions are reflective of a battle over abortion that has always been intense and it appears to be getting more so.

And in Florida, the third most populous state, the stakes are high.

Backers of the legislation just signed by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, say their ultimate goal is stimulating a legal challenge that will lead to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision preserving a woman’s right to an abortion.

The Alabama law’s near total ban has no exceptions for victims of rape or incest, except only to save a mother’s life. The law provides for prosecution of doctors performing abortions with penalties up to 99 years.

“What Alabama’s doing, what Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Ohio are doing — this is where we really have to step it up now, and take advantage of this,” said Guardiola, who added he continues to lobby to get a heartbeat bill passed in Florida. “Hopefully we go to the Supreme Court. Maybe three years down the road, we may be able to reverse Roe v. Wade and end the killing of infants."

Goodhue acknowledged while a heartbeat bill and other abortion restrictions failed to pass in the legislative session that just ended, she knows the measures will be back.

“This is the fight of our lives,” she said. “We are reaching out to our supporters today, and everywhere, and engaging them. I don’t think anybody wants to see a day where their daughters are going to have to face the reality they can’t access a safe medical procedure."