Florida State Senator Dennis K. Baxley has found himself surrounded by controversy after several southeastern states passed restrictive abortion bills throughout May of 2019.
Baxley, who represents portions of Sumter, Lake and Marion Counties in Central Florida, told Miami NPR affiliate WLRN he was encouraged by the abortion bill that was passed in Alabama earlier this month.
“I certainly expect that this discussion will continue and that I will be a part of it,” State Sen. Dennis Baxley told WLRN’s ‘The Florida Roundup.’ “As policymakers we now have a lot to look at. And I think that we see a growing number of people moving more to some pro-life views.”
Baxley is a staunch pro-life conservative who has also made some comments about population decreases seen in Western Europe linking it to modern abortion laws in the United States.
In an Orlando Sentinel op-ed, Baxley was deemed as “Florida’s Steve King” due to his comments about abortion allowing immigrants to replace western society. Steve King is a U.S. representative from Iowa who has made some inflammatory comments about the merits of white supremacy.
Baxley is a 66-year-old Republican who has been serving in Florida’s Senate since 2016.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Baxley Said Immigrants are Replacing Society Throughout Western Culture
- During WLRN’s, ‘The Florida Roundup’ Baxley stated that due to low birth rates, society is disappearing.
“When you get a birth rate less than 2 percent, that society is disappearing,” Baxley said referring to Western Europe. “And it’s being replaced by folks that come behind them and immigrate, don’t wish to assimilate into that society and they do believe in having children. So you see that there are long-range impacts to your society when the answer is is to exterminate.”
Baxley also made similar comments when talking to Gainesville, Florida’s TV station WCJB.
“You look at Europe, they’ve been under two percent birth rate and they’re not replacing themselves and so what’s happening is they’re migrating in a population as a workforce, who by the way does believe in having seven or eight children in a family, and they have no desire to assimilate to the current Western culture,” Baxley said. “They’re replacing that society.”
2. One Critic of Baxley’s Says His Comments are Those of a ‘White Supremacist’
Kimberly Scott, the Director of Public Policy for the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, critiqued Baxley’s comments about immigrants replacing society due to abortion.
“That rhetoric, that statement alone is not just incredibly false, but it is so incredibly dangerous,” Scott told WCJB. “I mean we’re talking about, this is a white supremacist comment. I mean this is really talking about this very rooted reason for why there’s so much opposition around abortion.”
Baxley responded to Scott’s comment, saying his comments have nothing to do with whiteness or supremacy of any racial group. He added abortion is a multi-cultural issue and his comments were rooted in the “big picture” of preserving American society.
Baxley makes these comments in the midst of abortions being at a 10 year low in the United States.
3. Critics Say Baxley’s Comments Line-Up With Comments Made by Controversial U.S. Congressman Steve King
An op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel pointed out Baxley’s comments made on WLRN and WCJB and lined them up with comments made by Steve King, a congressman from Iowa.
“In the U.S., we have almost a million abortions a year, babies who would be raised by American parents. Then we bring in 1.2 million legal immigrants a year and add another 600,000 or so illegal immigrants.” King said in a 2018 interview. “The U.S. subtracts from its population a million of our babies in the form of abortion. We add to our population approximately 1.8 million of ‘somebody else’s babies’ who are raised in another culture before they get to us. We are replacing our American culture 2 to 1 every year.”
The op-ed stated that it is fine to make pro-life arguments based off of moral beliefs, but added Baxley and King’s view on “replacement” and “preserving culture” is “nationalistic code for preserving a white majority.”
4. This Isn’t the First Time Baxley has Been Involved in Controversy Surrounding Race
In 2017, Baxley refused to hear a bill that would allow a Florida Slavery Memorial, calling the memorial something that would “celebrate defeat.”
“I would rather celebrate overcoming the heartbreak of slavery. I wouldn’t want to build a memorial to child abuse; I wouldn’t want to build a memorial to sexual abuse,” Baxley told the Miami Herald. “I have a discomfort about memorializing slavery. … I would like to take it in a more positive direction than a memorial to slavery.”
His comments came after Florida’s House passed the bill with resounding applause. Many members of Florida’s legislative black caucus were outraged by Baxley’s comments.
“His statements have no place in today’s society as it relates to race relations,” Rep. Kionne McGhee, a black Democrat from Miami said.
McGhee also deemed the comments as “borderline racism.”
Baxley has also spoken in front of groups whose members participated in Charlotteville’s infamous “Unite the Right’ rally in 2017.
5. Baxley is in Support of a Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Ban in Florida
Although a fetal heartbeat abortion ban bill died on Florida’s Senate floor Baxley hopes it will be taken up during Florida’s next session.
Baxley sponsored the bill that died on the floor, according to the Sun Sentinel.
“I really wish we didn’t need a law,” Baxley told WCJB. “I wish that we had a social conscience that said, you know, these children are not the ones to be sacrificed in this discussion.”
Baxley said he is encouraged by the bills that were passed in states like Alabama and Georgia, as he sees the pro-life movement gaining momentum.
“Anything worth doing is going to be difficult, and you know I didn’t come here to be in the wallpaper,” Baxley said. “I tried to come here to change hearts and lives in a direction that we’re a healthier society together.”
According to the CDC, abortions in the United States are at a 10-year low.