SEBRING For Cary Pigman, it was a triple victory. Not only did he pass a bill as a freshman Florida legislator, it was an abortion bill. And it passed unanimously.
“I talked to all the folks in the minority who have heartburn, and we improved it at each committee stop,” Pigman said on Thursday.
He asked himself, what is the core issue, and what can he bend on?
The result was that HB 1129, sponsored by the Avon Park Republican, passed 119-0 on Wednesday. Along with requiring that doctors provide care to babies surviving attempted abortions, the bill mandates live births be reported.
“Actually, I got what I would say was wonderful support from the Democratic members,” Pigman said. “It was an absolute blessing that I got all 119 votes.”
The Senate version, SB 1636, sponsored by Anitere Flores, R-Miami, has also sailed through two committees by 9-0 votes. The bills would amend current law which command doctors to care for infants outside the womb if babies have a reasonable probability of indefinite existence. Gov. Scott said he would sign the unified bill.
“That creates two classes of infants,” Pigman said. “To me, they’re both people.”
Twenty-eight states already have similar laws, which mirror a federal provision signed by President George W. Bush in 2002.
Abortion politics dominated the House on Wednesday and Thursday. The debate was peppered this year by the criminal case of Pennsylvania Dr. Kermit Gosnell, charged with the deaths of a woman and seven babies who prosecutors say were born alive.
Pigman, an avowed pro-lifer, said he purposely stayed away from that Gosnell’s story on the House floor, and didn’t want to express his opinion for this story.
However, he heard the debate on Thursday morning and voted for another bill that would make the death of an unborn child a separate crime from an attack on the expectant mother.
Sponsor Rep. Larry Ahern, R-St. Petersburg, said 36 other states have such measures. Democratic lawmakers pressed Ahern with hypotheticals – sporting events, automobile accidents. Ahern was willing to leave enforcement to the police.
“In a crime like this, the unborn baby is also a victim,” Pigman reasoned. “It’s largely updating language already on the books.”
Pigman also intends to vote for HB 845, which bans abortions solely for the purpose of choosing a child’s gender or race. Violations would be a third-degree felony.
After reading The Economist, Pigman learned there are districts in China and India which exceed 120 male births to 100 females.
“Society is not well served when nature is out of balance either way,” Pigman said.