House passes anti-abortion measure, Senate unlikely to hear itby Dara Kam | March 1st, 2012
The Republican-dominated House approved a sweeping anti-abortion measure that would require a 24-hour waiting period and impose strict regulation of clinics, but a similar proposal is unlikely to advance in the Senate.
House leaders cleared the chamber of the House “pages” – messengers as young as 12 years old – before the hour-long debate, some of it brutally graphic, on the measure began.
The regulations included in the proposal (HB 277) would require clinics to be wholly owned by a doctor who specialized in what critics say are outdated abortion procedures during his or her residency, require a 24-hour waiting period before women could get the procedure and require doctors to inform women that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks, something disputed within the scientific community.
The measure would also ban abortion providers from advertising. That ban was struck down by the Supreme Court more than 30 years ago.
The abortion debate in the Florida legislature comes as the emotionally- and politically-charged issue draws more focus on the national stage.
Democrats argued that the measure was another attempt by Republicans to whittle away at abortion rights.
The bill is designed to “cut off a woman’s access to safe, legal abortion care in Florida,” argued Rep. Lori Berman, D-Delray Beach. “I still don’t understand why this chamber wants to regulate my body.”
But the anti-abortion Republicans said that abortions should be more difficult to get and that the regulations are designed to make women safer.
“I don’t believe that this is intrusive in any way. It’s not intrusive to save a human being’s life. It’s heroic. This is heroic work that we need to be proud of doing,” said Rep. Steve Precourt, R-Orlando.
The measure passed with a 78-33 vote but a similar measure in the Senate is unlikely to get a hearing on the floor.