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House debate mirrors national GOP divide over abortion

by Dara Kam | April 3rd, 2013

A divided House committee sent to the House floor a measure that would make it a crime to perform an abortion based on the gender or race of the fetus after a debate supporters conceded was unwanted by members of both parties.

Two Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee voted against the bill, ignoring an impassioned plea for support from committee Chairman Dennis Baxley, a former head of the state Christian Coalition.

The bill (HB 845) would require physicians or health care professionals who perform abortions to swear in writing that the reason for the procedure is not based on the race or gender of the fetus. The measure also carries a $10,000 penalty for performing a race- or gender-based abortion, something bill sponsor Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, said is becoming a new industry in the U.S.

Both Democrats and Republicans agreed that having an abortion because of the fetus’s race or gender was “abhorrent.”

Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, voted for the measure but echoed concerns expressed by many conservative women throughout the country on the divisive abortion issue. Passidomo said she considered leaving the room to avoid having to cast a vote.

“I don’t like the bill but I don’t like the concept even more,” Passidomo said. “But frankly as a conservative Republican who keeps saying let’s get out of your lives except when we want to stay in it, I’m concerned about that…These kind of issues are not the kind of issues that we should not be handling here in the Florida legislature.”

Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota, said he could not support the measure because he believes in “personal responsibility.” And Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, said she shared Passidomo’s concerns about enforceability and “the fact that we are getting into areas that perhaps we shouldn’t be delving in.”

Baxley acknowledged that some committee members did not want to have to vote on the bill.

But, he said, “We cannot give up on this discussion no matter how difficult it is.”

“I implore you to see this as one small area that we can at least say that if you say that’s the reason you’re doing abortion we can say that’s wrong,” Baxley, R-Ocala, said.

The committee approved the measure with a 10-7 vote with Rep. Daphne Campbell, D-Miami, the lone Democrat voting in favor. A similar Senate bill has not yet had a hearing.

The committee also approved another measure (HB 759) supported by abortion opponents. The “Unborn Victims of Violence” proposal would make the death of an “unborn child” at any stage of development a separate crime from any offense committed against the mother, even if the perpetrator was unaware that the woman was pregnant. And it would change the words “viable fetus” and “unborn quick child” in vehicular homicide law to “unborn child,” which Democrats said is akin to more controversial “personhood” proposals attempting to elevate the status of a fetus to that of an adult human being.

Current law now defines homicide as the intentional killing of another human being, said Rep. Dave Kerner, D-Lake Worth, a lawyer.

“This is a huge expansion of …the definition of homicide. And that’s very, very concerning to me,” Kerner said.

The committee approved the measure with a 12-4 vote, with only Democrats opposing it and Campbell voting in support.

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5 Responses to “House debate mirrors national GOP divide over abortion”

  1. Dantheman Says:

    Thanks Rep. Kerner for doing was us right and intelligent. These bills are disgusting.

  2. Kevin Says:

    Obviously Florida house republicans are pandering to the extremist right wing tea party crazy’s again. What a ridiculous premise this is. Chip chip chip away at the stone until you achieve your ultimate goal I suppose. Of course they can’t be trusted to be upfront with what they will do with the passage of this bill. Expect that they will get some idiot who had an abortion to say “I told him I didn’t want to have this black baby and he did it anyway”. What they are attempting to do is intimidate doctors who perform abortions and threaten them with potential jail time or fines until they stop providing the service. Why have there been so many right wing assaults on the medical profession lately? One of my personal favorites is a bill that proposes jailing doctors for asking if a patient has a gun in the house. Why are these personal property and individual liberty folks constantly trying to subvert the rights of and dictate their morality to everyone else? If you don’t believe in abortion don’t have one? What gives you the right to impose your version of morality on others? One person’s moral objection is another person’s personal freedoms, just like one persons 2nd amendment right is another person’s unnecessary security risk. Why not just live and let live.

  3. Mark & Alicia Thompson Says:

    Have not Physicians taken an oath to preserve and to save lives? What are we doing? We are now fighting for the saving of an innocent life… trying to be a voice for those that do not have one. What about the rights of the child, this is a moral issue that reaches down into the depths of the soul of our country. I pray that God have mercy on us, but believe we if we continue along this path we will see even darker days.

  4. Kevin Says:

    @ Mark and Alicia: Where’s your concern for the hundreds of innocent lives lost every day to gun violence? If you believe God is going to judge humanity with a broad brush and smite us all because some body else is performing or having an abortion then were already screwed. If you believe as I do that God judges us as individuals then I suggest you don’t have or perform any abortions. Making the procedure illegal will not prevent it from occurring. Just like making illicit drugs illegal and spending billions of dollars to prosecute and incarcerate users has not stopped their proliferation. God will have mercy on those of us who strive every day to live our lives like Jesus did. The rest are on their own and they are not my concern.

  5. Sung Demark Says:

    The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as a lot as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to learn, but I truly thought youd have something fascinating to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you may fix in case you werent too busy looking for attention.

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