A Florida legislator from Central Florida was honored with a 2016 Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops Defensor Vitae (Defender of Life) Award for her ongoing, courageous and valiant defense of the sanctity of life. The award was presented on Feb. 17 at a Catholic Days at the Capitol luncheon attended by the Catholic bishops of Florida, several state lawmakers and more than 300 Catholic faithful from across the state.
Representative Jennifer Sullivan (R) (pictured center with Bishop Noonan), District 31, Eustis, received the Defender of Life Award. Representative Sullivan was recognized for her pro-life efforts as the sponsor of a bill passed by the Florida legislature during the 2015 session that would allow a woman a 24-hour reflection period prior to an abortion.
Award presenter, Ingrid Delgado, associate for respect life/social concerns with the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, explained, “Protecting the unborn is one of the more challenging issues members of the legislature sponsor and support. Yet, this young freshman legislator carried this bill, intimately knowing every aspect, gracefully responding to the concerns of those who opposed the bill, and resiliently enduring hours-long debate.”
Representative Larry Ahern (R), District 66, Seminole, also received a Defender of Life Award for advocating for legislation that recognizes and values life at its earliest development.
James Herzog, associate director for education, praised the legislator’s stalwart focus on helping to protect women and their unborn children. “For three legislative sessions, Representative Ahern sponsored the unborn victims of violence act. Our 2014 Catholic Days participants will recall that this was a key issue that year and was successfully signed into law,” said Herzog.
Catholic Days at the Capitol is held annually during the Florida Legislative Session. Catholics from around the state gather in Tallahassee for a legislative briefing before attending scheduled meetings with their elected officials. During a luncheon for participants, selected lawmakers are honored for their work in the Florida Legislature.