Anti-abortion measure passes Senate committee, moving in House tomorrowby Dara Kam | February 22nd, 2012
Republican legislators are pushing an omnibus anti-abortion measure that revives some of the most controversial portions of proposals left out of a package of anti-abortion bills passed last year and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott.
The Senate Health Regulation Committee approved the proposal (SB 290) by a 5-2 vote, with a single Republican, Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, joining the lone Democrat on the committee, Sen. Eleanor Sobel of Hollywood, in opposition.
The proposal would impose a 24-hour wait period before women can receive abortions, require that clinics be wholly owned and operated by doctors whose residency was in abortion procedures, bar clinics from advertising that they perform abortions, and make it even more difficult for women to get already-banned and extremely rare third-trimester abortions.
Abortion providers say the changes are aimed at making it harder for women to get abortions.
“That is the real reason for this legislation – to make it even more difficult or impossible for women in Florida to access a full range of reproductive service,” Staci Fox, president of Planned Parenthood of North Florida, which operates five clinics, told the committee.
Jones asked the bill’s sponsor Sen. Anitere Flores whether her proposal would impose burdensome regulations on Florida businesses, something GOP leaders say they want to reduce.
“You’re right. This bill is increasing regulation of abortions,” Flores, R-Miami, said, “because what we’re talking about is a major medical procedure…I do think the state has a very strong purpose in increasing this regulation.”
The bill would also require abortion doctors to take three hours of ethics courses each year, drawing the objection of ACLU of Florida lobbyist Pamela Burch Fort.
The bill is about “shaming women who obtain abortions and shaming physicians who perform those procedures,” Fort said.
An identical bill (HB 277) is up in a House committee Thursday morning. Proponents expect both chambers to sign off on the measures, and Gov. Rick Scott will likely sign them into law if they do.
Sobel offered a series of amendments which she withdrew before they could be rejected, including one which would require a 24-hour wait period before a man could get a vasectomy or a prescription for Viagra.