Miami-Dade County, FL – On April 14, 2022, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 5 (HB-5), also known as the Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act. This bill, which took effect on July 1, 2022, prohibits physicians from performing abortions after 15 weeks of gestation. HB-5 is a tremendous step in protecting the lives of Florida’s most vulnerable: unborn children.
Parents, conservatives, pro-life and pro-family advocates, celebrated this huge win for Florida’s most innocent and vulnerable. However, not everyone in the Sunshine State saw this protective bill as a win. It may shock some, and come as no surprise to others, that faith leaders in Miami-Dade County publicly expressed their displeasure and opposition in the State’s efforts to protect the unborn.
Members of the Interfaith Advisory Board (IAB) of Miami-Dade County vehemently and publicly opposed HB-5 and went so far as to submit an official statement condemning the bill for the IAB to approve for distribution. Rabbi Robyn Fisher and Lama Karma Chotso, who apparently drafted the statement, felt that the IAB should “oppose any law that imposes the religious practices of any one religion or any other faith tradition.” They assert that HB-5 violates the “deeply held religious beliefs and practices protecting women’s reproductive health” of various religions including Jewish, Buddhist and many Christian faiths.
The statement was on the agenda for the November 29, 2022 IAB meeting. After a lengthy discussion and hearing many comments from citizens and community leaders including Alex Serrano, Executive Director of Miami-Dade County Citizens Defending Freedom (CCDF-Miami-Dade), the IAB voted “no on putting out this statement.” Those who voted to not release the statement were Pastor Stephen Alessi, Father Elviz Gonzalez, Rabbi Avrohom Brashevitzky, Reverend Guillermo Escalona, Pastor Donald Clark Jr., Rabbi Mark Rosenberg, and Pastor Juan Barek. Pastor Kay Dawson, of the Cathedral of Praise Interdenominational Covenant of Fellowship Homestead, abstained from voting.
Rabbi Robyn Fisher and Lama Karma Chotso, who both voted in favor of releasing the statement, have also both filed civil actions against the State of Florida. Rabbi Fisher, as well as two additional rabbis, are seeking declaratory relief for an alleged constitutional violation due to the criminalization of abortion by the state of Florida. Lama Karma Chotso’s suit alleges that HB-5 violates the liberty of speech and the free exercise and enjoyment of religion, as well as places her in risk of prosecution for counseling women, girls, and families to obtain abortions.
County Citizens Defending Freedom (CCDF-USA) wants to applaud and support the faith leaders of Miami-Dade County’s Interfaith Advisory Board who have chosen to stand for what is right, and support HB-5. It is a commonly held belief that a nation’s greatness can be measured by how it treats its most vulnerable and, once again, Florida has proven that it truly is one of the greatest states in our Nation.