“You don’t see us as a culture, as a white culture, pushing this agenda of abortion, women outside the home, not having babies, everybody getting more and more and more and more, just more and more, like we don’t have enough, and we’re so fat….”
And that’s about where the Florida man lost his thread.
The anti-abortion activist, identified as Greg Pound, was speaking Monday in front of the Florida House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, expressing his support for HB 865. That bill would make abortion completely illegal in Florida except when pregnancy threatens a woman’s life or interferes with the treatment of an “already-life threatening disease”—and only then if two physicians “certify in writing” that this is the case.
The bill would also remove the stipulation that abortion is permitted in order to “avert a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function,” claiming that this exception for a woman’s health “impedes the state’s protection of viable unborn human life.” The net effect: Abortion would be illegal for any woman who would not die from pregnancy or childbirth.
The proposed legislation would also slap anyone who performs an abortion or operates an abortion clinic with a first-degree felony charge, which could carry a prison sentence of up to 30 years.
As the Miami Herald reports, the patently unconstitutional bill easily cleared the subcommittee by an 8-3 vote. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that states cannot place an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion before fetal viability, let alone try to ban it entirely at every stage.
But for one Christian lawmaker—and, apparently, a racist activist with too much time on his hands—the Supreme Court’s final say is really more of a suggestion.
“The Legislature urges the United States Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood of Southern (sic.) Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992)” HB 865 reads. Later on, it calls these Supreme Court’s rulings “arbitrary,” saying that they provide “inadequate guidance for this state to enact meaningful protections for unborn human life.”
In addition to the twice-repeated typo—Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania was a party in the pivotal 1992 case that upheld Roe but allowed more state-level restrictions—the bill also inserts several references to “God” and the “Creator” into Florida’s abortion legislation.“The Legislature finds that all human life comes from the Creator, has an inherent value that cannot be qualified by man, and begins at the earliest biological development of a fertilized human egg,” it reads. The bill refers to “human life” as “the most fundamental gift from God,” citing these arguments as justification for Floridians to “exercise their right to self-government” and “prohibit unnecessary abortion.”The religious tenor of the bill is not a surprise given its sponsor, Republican state representative Charles Van Zant. A minister and graduate of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Van Zant famously claimed in 2014 that the implementation of Common Core education in Florida would “attract every one of your children to become as homosexual as they possibly can.”Lest anyone shake their head and say, “Only in Florida,” four states have passed “trigger laws” that would make abortion illegal in most cases if Roe v. Wade were overturned.
Eleven states have bans pre-dating Roe that are still technically state law, and eight others have legislation expressing an intent to restrict abortion to the fullest extent permitted by any future Supreme Court Roe reversal, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Van Zant’s bill is not even the first to fly directly in the face of the Supreme Court’s guidance. Louisiana, Utah, and North Dakota have all attempted to implement blatantly unconstitutional abortion bans after Roe v. Wade.Most recently, North Dakota passed a “fetal heartbeat” law in 2013 that was intended to ban abortion after six weeks. It was blocked in federal court last year and the Supreme Court denied an appeal to that decision earlier this week, preventing the legislation from ever being enforced.
In the event that Van Zant’s bill makes it through subcommittees and becomes law, Florida would join the lofty ranks of states that pass extreme abortion bans knowing that they will be immediately struck down.
For now, the bill’s main claim to fame is that it brought Pound, a man concerned for the fate of “white culture,” to the floor of the Florida House of Representatives.
In his remarks Monday, which have since spread online, Pound rambled on about Mexicans and Muslims—neither of whom “kill their babies,” he claims— and how a low fertility rate in the United States spells doom for the future of the country. His confusing remarks seem to run counter to a sentiment shared by the many anti-abortion conspiracy theorists who argue that abortion is a form of “black genocide; for Pound, abortion needs to be stopped to save the white people. His conclusion: “It’s either repent or perish, America. That’s the way it is.”
University of South Florida students and alumni may recognize Pound as a campus preacher.“You need to be free from your white savage mindset!” he can be heard shouting in one student’s video project on the activist.
“Did God create Adam and Eve or Adam and Steve?” he asks in another YouTube video.
According to a 2009 Tampa Bay Times report, Pound, then running as a write-in candidate for sheriff of Pinellas County, was charged with aggravated stalking and violation of a domestic violence injunction for holding up signs next to his children’s school bus after they were removed from his custody in 2007. Those charges didn’t stop him from running for sheriff again in 2012 and releasing a campaign video filmed in front of a towering crucifix.
The publicity that Pound’s remarks have received probably won’t do HB 865 any favors.
But perhaps his endorsement is exactly the kind that such an outrageous bill deserves.