A Democrat voting for an abortion bill in the FL Legislature can face repercussions

Opening day of Florida legislative session, Jan. 14, 2020. Credit: screenshot, Florida Channel.

State Rep. Patricia Hawkins Williams, a Broward Democrat, has lost a campaign endorsement after voting for a bill requiring parental permission for a minor to get an abortion.

Most Democrats voted against the parental-consent bill, which cleared the state House Thursday. The Senate has already approved the bill, which now heads to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk. He expects to sign the bill.

Friday, Ruth’s List Florida rescinded its endorsement of Williams and removed her name from the organization’s website.

That means Williams won’t get any money or help on her 2020 re-election campaign for the state House.

Ruth’s List Florida recruits and assists pro-choice Democratic women to run for public office in a variety of local and state positions. Williams promised the group she was pro-choice, according to Ruth’s List, so a vote for the parental-consent bill would have been a surprise.

“We are deeply disappointed to learn of Williams’ anti-choice vote. We can no longer support her candidacy,” Pam Goodman, president of Ruth’s List Florida, said in a written statement.

“Ruth’s List is founded on the principle that women must have the freedom to make their own medical decisions. Clearly, Ms. Hawkins Williams does not share that position, despite her promise to us that she was a pro-choice leader,” Goodman said.

Kate Coyne McCoy, a senior adviser at Ruth’s List Florida, said she called Williams Friday, “just to make sure it wasn’t a mistake and she hadn’t pushed the right button [to vote on the bill].”

But there was no mistake.

A few other Democrats voted for the parental-consent bill – including state Reps. Kimberly Daniels and Anika Tene Omphroy – but they had not been endorsed by Ruth’s List Florida.

Some male Democrats in the black caucus also voted for the parental-consent bill.

Two Republican women voted against the bill – State Reps. Heather Fitzenhagen and Holly Raschien.

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.