A four-year grassroots campaign to add heartbeat amendments to the Florida Constitution is approaching the Christmas deadline to collect the one million signatures needed to initiate the ballot for the 2022 election.
According to Mark Mink, chairman of the committee that sponsors the Human Life Protection Amendment, the effort at signing is still short. Mink’s four years of effort and sacrifice are lost—for now.
Mink put his corporate career on hold in 2018 to take on the project, which he sees as a “mission from God” with his wife. Should the years of effort pay off, Florida voters will decide whether to add this statement to the state’s constitution: All human beings have the right to life, regardless of their age, illness, or disability, when Pulsation can be detected.
“This grassroots organization is taking the issue of vulnerable human lives directly to the people of Florida and bypassing lawmakers by launching a ballot initiative to change the Florida Constitution,” Mink told The Epoch Times.
Florida residents last approved the ballot initiative in 2018. The questions in that year were related to voter control of gambling and the restoration of voting rights to criminals. Both measures passed with the required 60 percent of the vote.
Mink studied the successes from 2018. They had one thing in common. Both were costly endeavors as firms were hired to collect signatures.
“During the petition phase of these other campaigns, they spent about $5.7 million,” he said. “Of this, ninety-nine per cent went to pay to the petitioners.”
Mink’s organization didn’t have that kind of money, so he and his wife gathered a small group of friends and began their search.
“We felt that no one had a vested financial interest in passing it,” he said. “No one was going to get rich protecting preborn children or protecting the elderly or the sick or disabled, so we have no case to create a group of financial investors willing to finance our efforts. was not because of the financial windfall that could potentially be linked to it.”
After years of looking at Florida’s draft legislation to protect sea turtles and their eggs, as well as other animals, mink was troubled by the lack of protection for vulnerable human lives, including preterm babies, the elderly, and the disabled.
“It became clear that we needed an amendment that was not only an abortion ban but an amendment dealing with vulnerable human lives through the spectrum of life.”
According to Mink, since being approved in 1968, Florida’s current constitution has been amended 144 times. He estimates that every two-year election cycle, “Florida has to either approve or reject half a dozen amendments to the ballot.”
If successful, the ballot initiative will add a new clause under Article One of the state’s constitution.
Throughout the years Mink said he drafted and “brought abortion legislation to the table” when lawmakers are in session, but the bills seem to “die in committee”. He said he didn’t want to make the same mistakes of “legislative past” and wanted to take the initiative directly to Florida voters.
“We jokingly refer to what we are doing as legislative bypass surgery,” he laughed. “We designed this thing with words that even a child can understand.”
Mink was brought into the world by a teenage mother who had given her up for adoption. He said his parents were “honest and open” about his adoption and never doubted that he was “chosen”. He was brought up at the home of an older sister, then three years old, who was also adopted as an infant.
Mink met his biological mother in February 2018. Twelve days later, he attended the Men’s Prayer Breakfast, where he heard a recording titled “The Sound of Abortion”. He said the experience “changed his life forever”, which became the inspiration for the voting initiative.
After data testing, focus groups, statewide surveys, and robocalls, Mink and his group took the temperature where Florida voters were on the topic of protecting human lives.
“Our view was that if we found out that Florida voters didn’t have an appetite for this issue, we were just turning our wheels and wasting our time,” he recalled. “We believe that what we saw in the data testing convinced us that we should go ahead – it didn’t discourage us – it really encouraged us a lot.”
Florida lawmakers will return to Tallahassee in January to discuss the new laws and amend the old ones. One bill that will be up for consideration is BH 167, a Texas-style abortion law that would allow private citizens to prosecute those involved in performing abortions when a heartbeat is detected in a preterm baby.
Texas law has so far escaped scrutiny by the high courts.
The heartbeat can be detected in a preterm baby between six and eight weeks of gestation. Some doctors disagree with that interpretation.
“There is a slight movement in the area that will become the child’s future,” said Dr. Saima Aftab, medical director of the Fetal Care Center at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami.
“This pulsation occurs because the group of cells that will become the heart’s “pacemaker” in the future gains the ability to fire electrical signals, she said.
Detecting this flutter, “in no way does this translate into viability of the heart or the viability of the pregnancy,” Aftab said.
The Cleveland Clinic states that until the eighth week of pregnancy, a baby is called a fetus and before that it is still considered a fetus.
“After the pulse is detected at six weeks, the heart muscle continues to grow over the next four to six weeks, undergoing the folding and bending that takes place for the heart to take its final shape,” Aftab said.
Florida House Speaker Chris Sproules told reporters after the bill’s filing that he was “a supporter of stricter abortion rules,” but did not support Barnaby’s bill. She asked House Judiciary Committee Chair Erin Graal and House Health and Human Services Committee Chair Colleen Burton to review proposals for abortion legislation and to “speak up on the issue.”
“I’ve always fought for unborn children and their right to life, and the Florida House of Representatives has been a national leader in developing pro-life legislation. While other states only contend with federal law, we have to find Articles of the Florida Constitution.” I must also conflict with Section 23,” Sproles said in a statement, referring to the state’s constitutional right to privacy.
“Our laws have to be strong enough to jump through multiple levels of judicial scrutiny. We look forward to bringing in a bill that saves every possible unborn life.”
Both Democratic candidates who are expected to run against Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in 2022 provided their thoughts on Barnaby’s bill.
Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) tweeted that the measure is “a direct attack on a woman’s right to choose.”
“We have to fight tooth and nail to protect reproductive freedom,” Krist said in a tweet.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, another candidate for a spot on the Democratic ticket for governor, said in a written statement that she could “prevent the bill from becoming law.”
“This bill is dangerous, radical and unconstitutional,” she said in a statement. “It’s clear that this is nothing more than a brazen attempt to try to control women and our bodies.”
The Epoch Times reached out to pro-choice groups across the state, but most declined to comment, while others did not return emails or phone calls.
Mink said that “unfortunately” because abortion is such a “hot-button” issue, HB 167 “will never see the light of day.” He said he did not want to “justify” what was “at the heart” of politicians when they brought in legislation like HB 167, but they never walked out of the committee because “no one wants to fall to one side” issue. or other. ,
“This (citizen’s initiative) effort is the most basic expression of ‘grassroots’ engagement by everyday citizens who want to make a difference when the legislative process fails them again and again,” Mink said.
Mink declined to disclose how many petition signatures his group has collected. He said the “clock is ticking” to collect the one million signatures needed to send the petition to Tallahassee.
“I hope this forces a debate, even if our amendment efforts fail,” he said.