House committee approves restrictive abortion billby Dara Kam | February 23rd, 2012
A House committee approved along party lines an omnibus anti-abortion measure that would, among other things, imposes a 24-hour waiting period and restrict ownership of new abortion clinics to doctors who specialized in abortion procedures during their residency.
The GOP-dominated Florida legislature last year approved five anti-abortion measures, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, but the Senate failed to pass one similar to the proposal now moving through both chambers.
Both sides on the emotional abortion issue agree the proposal mirroring last year’s is aimed at reducing the number of procedures in Florida.
A Senate committee yesterday approved a similar version (SB 290) of the bill, but the House Health and Human Services Committee changed the bill Thursday morning to include a controversial provision requiring women – already required to have an ultrasound before receiving an abortion under a measure passed last year – to be told that fetuses can experience pain after 20 weeks. Scientists are divided about whether this is true.
That provision and others may make the bill’s passage even more difficult in the Senate, which even last year without it refused to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.
The measure (HB 277) would also require that new abortion clinics be wholly owned and operated by doctors who specialize in abortion during their residency, something critics say would effectively prohibit any new clinics from opening.
About 90 percent of the services the clinics provide are for prevention or health care other than abortions, Planned Parenthood lobbyist Emily Caponetti said.
Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood, objected that the measure imposes more government regulation on private businesses.
“It is ironic that a state like Florida that is suing the federal government to avoid mandates is continually imposing mandates on physicians and women, health care mandates,” Schwartz said. “It is insipid and it is intrusive and I wish I didn’t have to vote on it.”
But Rep. Jason Brodeur called the regulation a good thing.
“Everybody mentioned this could create barriers. Well, good. I think when you make a choice to unilaterally end somebody else’s life by force we generally call that murder. I’m OK with it,” Brodeur, R-Sanford, said. “I’m happy to support it. And I hope we see more legislation like this.”