Abortion Bills Ready For Final House Vote

By: Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida
By: Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida


The Florida House is ready Wednesday to approve a sweeping series of abortion restrictions, including a requirement that women undergo ultrasounds before they can terminate pregnancies.

House members took up five bills Tuesday that target issues such as insurance coverage for abortions, teen abortions, state funding of abortions and clinic ownership. A sixth bill would change how money is used from sales of the “Choose Life” license plate.

Republicans rejected a string of Democratic amendments during a four-hour debate. Democrats --- who earlier sent out news releases describing the bills as “anti-women” and “anti-female” --- repeatedly questioned the abortion focus when many voters are concerned about issues such as jobs and the economy.

“Would this legislation result in any creation of jobs?” Rep. Charles Chestnut, D-Gainesville, asked at one point.

But Rep. Rachel Burgin, a Riverview Republican who sponsored one of the bills, said “you cannot put an economic study on life.’’

“I believe the health of women and health of families is really important,’’ she said.

With Republicans controlling the governor’s office and both chambers of the Legislature for the past dozen years, debates about abortion bills have been common. But the volume of bills moving forward this year has been unusual.

The Senate could take up two abortion bills on the floor Wednesday, and others appear to have a chance at passing before the legislative session ends May 6.

Here are summaries of the House bills that are poised for votes as early as Wednesday:

--- HB 1127: This measure would require ultrasounds before women can have first-trimester abortions, a requirement that already is in place for later-term abortions. It would largely reverse former Gov. Charlie Crist’s veto of a similar bill last year.

Women would have to sign forms stating they do not want to see the fetal images or hear descriptions. Supporters said Tuesday that many clinics already perform ultrasounds before abortions, but critics argued it could be a financial burden for some women.

“Will the patient be forced to pay for an ultrasound that she does not wish to be performed?’’ asked House Minority Leader Ron Saunders, D-Key West.

But Rep. Paige Kreegel, a Punta Gorda Republican who is a physician, said good doctors already are performing ultrasounds.

“All we’re doing with this bill is mandating the good practice of medicine,’’ Kreegel said.

--- HB 97: This proposal is designed to prevent abortion coverage in policies that will be sold through a state health-insurance exchange, which is required in 2014 as part of last year’s federal health overhaul.

Such exchanges will create new marketplaces for individuals and small businesses to buy health insurance, with low-income people able to get federal subsidies.

Tax dollars could not be used to pay for abortions, but the federal law will allow people to pay separately for abortion coverage. The House bill would block such coverage from being available in the Florida exchange.

--- House Joint Resolution 1179: This proposed constitutional amendment would go on the 2012 ballot and, in part, make clear that public funds could not be used to pay for abortions --- including through health-insurance coverage.

Federal law, known as the “Hyde Amendment,’’ already bars public funding of abortions through programs such as Medicaid. But resolution sponsor Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, said that law is not part of the Florida Constitution.

The proposed resolution, however, would go further because it also would prevent the Florida Constitution from being interpreted more broadly than the U.S. Constitution when it comes to abortion issues. That is important because a privacy clause in the Florida Constitution has been successfully used in the past to challenge abortion restrictions.

--- HB 1247: This measure would change a law that requires parents to be notified before minors can get abortions. It would tighten restrictions on minors who seek judicial approval to have abortions without their parents being notified.

As an example, the bill would require minors to go before judges in the same judicial circuits where they live. That would be more restrictive than the current requirement, which allows minors to go before judges in the appellate-districts where they live --- a far-larger number of courts in some regions of the state.

Abortion-rights advocates have long argued that some teens need the judicial-waiver process because they could be endangered if parents find out they are pregnant or seeking abortions. Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, questioned Tuesday whether minors’ anonymity could be threatened if they have to go to courthouses in the circuit where they live.

But bill sponsor Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, said the current process allows minors to be driven up to six hours from their homes to go before judges.

--- HB 1397: This measure includes a series of changes to abortion laws, including trying to prevent abortions after fetuses have reached “viability.’’

But perhaps the most-controversial part of the bill would require that doctors or groups of doctors own and operate any new clinics after Oct. 1, 2011. The requirement would not apply to currently operating clinics.

Rep. Luis Garcia, D-Miami Beach, said that could be a problem because physicians often need investors to finance clinics. But Burgin, the bill sponsor, said “this is not a job for entrepreneurs.’’

--- HB 501: This proposal would funnel money collected through sales of the “Choose Life” license plate to a non-profit group called Choose Life, Inc.

The money is supposed to go to programs that help pregnant women who are willing to put babies up for adoption. Under current law, the money goes to counties, which then distribute it to adoption-related programs.

Baxley, the bill sponsor, said the state needs a more “uniform” process for distributing the money, which Choose Life, Inc., would provide. But opponents questioned whether the bill includes enough safeguards to make sure the non-profit uses the money appropriately.

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  • by bon Location: tally on Apr 28, 2011 at 05:03 AM
    So are you saying that you are ready to adopt all those children once they get here? What's up with dismandling the social net? Oh that's right the child only matters until they are born, then too bad for them.
  • by bon Location: tally on Apr 27, 2011 at 12:31 PM
    are they going to require the men involved in this to pay their fair share? Why is it always the woman's fault, there were two people involved.
  • by Anonymous Location: Georgia on Apr 27, 2011 at 11:40 AM
    i agree. people shouldnt be so senseless as to having sex without protection, if you dont want a child. everybody is well educated on the fact that sex without protection is a high risk for pregnancy. duh. it has nothing to do with keeping women on their knees and at the mercy of men. women should be a bit more responsible. &yes i am a woman myself. look at it like this, when you abort that baby, you're not just not pregnant and life goes on. you're the mother of a dead baby. you made your bed, now lay in it. at least choose adoption. give that baby a chance.
    • reply
      by Jimbo on Apr 27, 2011 at 05:54 PM in reply to Anonymous
      Adoption is great for those who choose it, but don't force your values down my throat if I elect not to serve as an incubator for 9 months for a child I never wished for. You are being selfish and judgemental. Try being something else for a while...
  • by proudmama Location: georgia on Apr 27, 2011 at 10:30 AM
    Sounds like to me that the governement needs to be telling individuals who chose to have sex without any type of birth control when they can perform such acts as showering, sex, and potty breaks, because they are clearly irresponsible! It's really very simple if you want to have sex and you don't want children...use some sort of preventitive.
  • by proudmama Location: georgia on Apr 27, 2011 at 10:29 AM
    Sounds like to me that the governement needs to be telling individuals who chose to have sex without any type of birth control when they can perform such acts as showering, sex, and potty breaks, because they are clearly irresponsible!
  • by proudmama Location: georgia on Apr 27, 2011 at 10:28 AM
    Sounds like to me that the governement needs to be telling individuals who chose to have sex without any type of birth control when they can perform such acts as showering, sex, and potty breaks, because they are clearly irresponsible!
  • by Anonymous on Apr 27, 2011 at 09:48 AM
    I do not think abortion should be legal. But since it is, I think that instead of ultrasounds, the woman should be given information about fetal pain. The sensitive unborn go through a lot of pain through an abortion and most do not die immediately. The woman should get info on the risks of abortion, such as infection and other possible dangers. The woman should be given info on post tramatic stress syndrome and other forms of depression, there is a good chance she will need it. The woman should also be given info on other possible choices, such as adoption.
    • reply
      by Bob on Apr 27, 2011 at 05:52 PM in reply to
      You are a masochist, someone who likes to watch others endure pain. Making the decision to keep or abort a pregnancy is tough enough without all the pseudo-morality preaching from those that have never been there themselves. Make them aware of the fetal pain, how barbaric can you be?
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Apr 30, 2011 at 02:38 AM in reply to Bob
        That must mean you feel more comfortable turning a blind eye. Putting the unborn through that pain, that is what is barbaric. A woman has the right to know what she is doing before she does it. And what makes you think that you know what situations that I have been in? You dont! You are just making assumptions. But let me ask you, Why is abortion a tough decision for a woman to make? It is a tough decision because it is taking a life? If it wasn't a human life than abortion would not be such a hard decision now would it? There would be no opposition what so ever.
  • by Stupid on Apr 27, 2011 at 09:36 AM
    Next Government will be telling you when you can shower , have sex and go to the bathroom !!!!
    • reply
      by Gutshot on Apr 27, 2011 at 10:45 AM in reply to Stupid
      That is a better idea. A sure cure for abortion is no sex. Not so stupid, Stupid.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Apr 27, 2011 at 11:21 AM in reply to Stupid
      Shower decisions do not invove killing a baby!
  • by Jane on Apr 27, 2011 at 09:32 AM
    Sharia law by any other name is still sharia law - keeping women on their knees in complete submission to men. Bet the holy rollers who penned this law don't object to that truth.
    • reply
      by anonymous on Apr 27, 2011 at 10:53 AM in reply to Jane
      This sounds just like Sharia Law. But hey, we are now in the age of the American Taliban. Keep on and women will be wearing the Burka and made to stay inside. Fundamentalism at its finest.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Apr 30, 2011 at 03:45 AM in reply to anonymous
        Are you implying that believing that the unborn or "fetus" is in fact a human life and that we should not kill "abort" that life is only something a fundamentalist or Christian could believe? Isn't that a little closed minded?
  • by HouseofKAO$ on Apr 27, 2011 at 08:30 AM
    exactly how many jobs will this create exactly? Oh yeah, NONE!
    • reply
      by J. C. on Apr 27, 2011 at 03:39 PM in reply to HouseofKAO$
      Finally, someone cares enough to protect the mothers and children of Florida. It is amazing to me that others would protest the requirement that a mother learn about her child's development and see an ultrasound (if she chooses) before killing her baby. That is the least we need to do so that people understand what they are choosing. Abortion is FOREVER.
      • reply
        by female on Apr 28, 2011 at 08:27 AM in reply to J. C.
        So what you are saying is that women are too stupid to understand what an abortion is and what it means..thanks.
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