Miami – Incoming Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva is apologizing for comments he made about abortion in an interview with CBS Miami's Jim DeFede. During the interview, part of which aired on Thursday, he repeatedly used the term "host body" to describe pregnant women.
He faced a storm of criticism from those who viewed his comments as demeaning to women. On Friday, he apologized, CBS Miami reported.
"In a recent interview where the very controversial topic of abortion was raised I used the term 'host' to describe a pregnant woman," he said in a statement. "It was an attempt to use terminology found in medical ethics writings with the purpose of keeping the discussion dispassionate. The reaction undoubtedly shows it had the exact opposite effect."
"I apologize for having caused offense, my aim was the contrary," he said. "This is and will continue to be our societies greatest challenge. I strongly believe both mother and child have rights and the extent and balance of those rights remain in question. I regret my wording has distracted from the issue. My apologies to all."
Oliva describes himself as a small government conservative who believes people should be allowed to live their lives as they see fit.
"I think people should be able to make the decisions that they would like to make for themselves," he said, according to CBS Miami. "I don't want to encumber someone's ability to make their decisions. I don't want to tell anyone how to live their lives."
When asked about abortion, the Miami Lakes Republican said the issue was more complicated.
"Well the challenge there is that there are two lives involved," he said. "So, where I believe that we should stay out of people's lives, I don't believe that people's lives should be taken."
"It's a complex issue, because one has to think, well there's a host body and that host body has to have a certain amount of rights because at the end of the day it is that body that, that carries this entire other body to term," he said.
When the 2019 Florida legislature gavels into session next week, Oliva will be the first representative from Miami-Dade County to hold the speakership since Marco Rubio in 2007 and 2008.