On January 28 and 29, 2020, Catholics from across the seven dioceses in Florida gathered with their bishops in Tallahassee to participate in Catholic Days at the Capitol. Over the two days, participants attended a legislative briefing, met with elected officials and/or their staff, observed lawmaking in action, posed for group photos with their bishops, and enjoyed a breakfast and award presentation. The Red Mass, concelebrated by the eight bishops of Florida, concluded the activities.
Catholics Days participants discussed the following three legislative proposals with their lawmakers urging them to take positions that recognize the value of human life in all stages and conditions:
SB 404 (Stargel) and HB 265 (Grall) require that a parent or legal guardian shall provide consent before a minor can terminate her pregnancy, as they must do in most every case prior to a minor’s medical treatment. The bills include a judicial waiver process when parental abuse is a concern.

On Thursday, February 6, SB 404 (Stargel) passed the full Senate (23-17). The bill requires that a parent or legal guardian shall provide consent before a minor can terminate her pregnancy, as they must do in most every case prior to a minor’s medical treatment. The bill includes a judicial waiver process when parental abuse is a concern.

 In closing on her bill, Senator Stargel shared her personal experience as a pregnant teen faced with informing her parents and who gratefully chose to raise her child. She also urged lawmakers to consider the pregnant minor who may be secretly trafficked or sexually abused and in need of her parents’ help and intervention.The companion bill, HB 265 (Grall), has passed its committee of reference, and we anticipate the House taking up the bill next week

Increased Access to Care for Children Moving in House and Senate
 SB 348 (Bean) and HB 6031 (Pigman) would remove the lifetime maximum cap on covered expenses for children enrolled in the Florida KidCare program. KidCare is funded through a state/federal partnership and provides affordable health insurance for about 345,000 of Florida’s children from families with lower-incomes. The current $1 million cap on benefits applies to a small number of children whose high medical bills leave them without coverage.

The Catholic bishops view access to health care as essential for human flourishing, and have special concern for those who are more vulnerable, including children and those with lower incomes.
SB 348 has passed all committees of reference is on the Senate Special Order Calendar for Wednesday, February 12. HB 6031 has passed two committees of reference and has one final committee, Health & Human Services.

Death Penalty Repeal
SB 938 (Farmer, Jr.) and HB 6045 (Geller) delete all provisions in Florida statutes that provide for the death penalty for capital felonies. In August 2018, Pope Francis directed that the Catechism of the Catholic Church be revised to instruct the Church that, since modern penal systems have made executions unnecessary to protect society, the death penalty is inadmissible. The sentence of life without parole is a serious sentence that protects society without taking an additional life.

Opposition to Assisted Suicide
SB 1800 (Rader) establishes a process through which persons can obtain drugs with which to commit suicide. While Florida law prohibits assisted suicide, the deceptively named “Death with Dignity” movement has targeted Florida as a priority state to change our laws to allow a patient to actively end their own life. Assisted suicide exploits older, weaker and more vulnerable persons and can lead to higher overall suicide rates.

Learn more about Catholic Days at the Capitol.