Two top leaders of the Democratic Party in Florida are speaking out after police detained them Monday night in Tallahassee as they protested the state’s six-week abortion bill.
Officers accused Florida Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book and Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Nikki Fried of trespassing and brought them to the police station.
“I believe sometimes you have to stand up to do the right thing,” Book told NBC6. “Here we were in a situation where there were women who were putting their bodies on the line to protect a woman’s right to choose, and I made the decision to sit alongside them to bear witness.”
Book, Fried and a handful of others allegedly overstayed their welcome sitting outside City Hall, speaking out against the six-week abortion bill that passed the Senate hours earlier.
A six-week ban would more closely align Florida with the abortion restrictions of other Republican-controlled states
The proposal allows exceptions to save the life of the woman and exceptions in the case of pregnancy caused by rape or incest until 15 weeks of pregnancy.
“As elected leaders, we have a responsibility to advocate for life and protect the unborn child,” said Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, a Republican representing the Doral area.
The vote passed almost along party lines, with two Republicans siding with the Democrats. Republican Sen. Alexis Calatayud, from District 38 in Miami-Dade County, voted against the bill. She said a 15-week ban is restrictive enough.
“I advocate for access to contraceptives and preventative measures, I advocate for families to have greater affordability and opportunity to thrive,” Calatayud said.
A recent poll of 1,400 people by the University of North Florida shows three-quarters of Floridians strongly or somewhat oppose banning abortion after six weeks with no exceptions for sex crimes.
Book and Fried hope their move sends a message to those who disagree with the bill.
“When you saw what we were able to do yesterday to say, look, we’re not done, we will continue to fight, there are people who are going to put their lives on the line to protect the people in our state,” Fried said.
The State Attorney will decide whether to file charges of trespassing against Book and Fried. If so, they will go before a judge later this month.
The abortion bill will now be discussed in the State House and could be voted on in a matter of days.
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