FL Sen. Dennis Baxley hopes to see fetal heartbeat abortion ban

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -- As restrictions on abortions remain in the national spotlight, Florida State Senator Dennis Baxley is speaking in favor of a fetal heartbeat abortion ban that died on the Senate floor but could be taken up next session.

Baxley, a Republican, represents Florida Senate District 12, which consists of parts of Marion, Lake and Sumter counties.

In this legislative session, Baxley also co-sponsored legislation in the Senate that would have required parental consent for a minor to receive an abortion.

“I really wish we didn’t need a law," Baxley said. "I wish that we had a social conscience that said, you know, these children are not the ones to be sacrificed in this discussion.”

As a nationwide abortion debate rages on following the passage of restrictive laws in states like Alabama and Georgia, Baxley said the pro-life movement is gaining momentum. He said he hopes changes in both the Supreme Court and the Florida Supreme Court will work in the pro-life movement's favor.

“Anything worth doing is going to be difficult, and you know I didn’t come here to be in the wallpaper," Baxley said. "I tried to come here to change hearts and lives in a direction that we’re a healthier society together.”

Another reason Baxley gave for supporting an abortion ban in Florida is that, he said, abortion creates long-term negative trends in society's demographics.

"You look at Europe, they've been under two percent birth rate and they're not replacing themselves and so what's happening is they're migrating in a population as a workforce, who by the way does believe in having seven or eight children in a family, and they have no desire to assimilate to the current Western culture," Baxley said. "They're replacing that society."

Kimberly Scott, the Director of Public Policy for the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, took issue with Baxley's argument.

"That rhetoric, that statement alone is not just incredibly false, but it is so incredibly dangerous," Scott said. "I mean we're talking about, this is a white supremacist comment. I mean this is really talking about this very rooted reason for why there's so much opposition around abortion."

TV20 asked Baxley for a response to Scott. He said his argument against abortion does not have to do with whiteness or supremacy of any group. Baxley said the pro-life movement is multi-cultural, and his concerns are about preserving the "big picture" of American society, not a single race or culture.

Scott said abortion has been stigmatized, and that it is a reproductive right. She also argued against fetal heartbeat legislation, which bans abortion around six weeks, saying that most women don't even know they are pregnant at six weeks.

"We are consistently used as a political football for their cause. It's enough, we are done with it," Scott said. "This is about real medical decisions that women are making every single day."

While no legislation restricting abortion passed in the Florida Legislature during this year's session, Baxley said he hopes it will come up in the next.

“I would say that life and death trumps any other right," Baxley said. "Cause if you don’t have a right to life, none of the other rights mean anything.”

But Scott said she, along with Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice groups, is ready for a fight.

"It is war," Scott said. "We’re ready. We’re gonna be not just at the front lines of these marches, of these protests, of these rallies you’re seeing all over the country today. But we’re also going to be at the voting booth, and we’re ready for 2020.”

The next session of the Florida Legislature begins in January 2020.