Across Florida
What's happening on other political blogs?

abortion’

Scott signs measure requiring emergency care in botched abortions

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a measure requiring treatment for infants born after an attempted abortion, passed unanimously by the Florida Legislature last month.

The “Infants Born Alive” bill (HB 1129) requires infants born alive after an attempted abortion to provide resuscitative care and require that they be transported to hospitals and receive emergency aid. The new law, which goes into effect on July 1, is modeled on a similar federal law also enacted by other states.

“As a father and grandfather, there is nothing more precious or special than welcoming a new child into this world and by signing this bill, we are protecting the most vulnerable among us and affirming their rights as individuals. This legislation ensures common-sense measures are taken to help care for the babies who survive abortion procedures and grants those infants the same rights as infants who are born naturally,” Scott, a Republican seeking reelection to a second term as governor, said in a statement.

Florida lawmakers unanimously approved the measure after Planned Parenthood representatives signed off on the bill. The new law also requires abortion providers to report infants born alive to the state.

Health care providers say that the chances of an infant being born alive after an abortion are extremely rare because third-trimester abortions are prohibited in Florida unless the life of the mother is in danger. Infants born before then could not survive, some abortion advocates said during testimony on the measure.

Scott, accompanied by his wife Ann and abortion opponents, signed the bill into law at the Florida Baptist Children’s Home in Cantonment. The Panhandle community is near Pensacola, home to some of the state’s most strident anti-abortion activists and the site of an abortion clinic bombing in 1984. Two abortion doctors were gunned down at clinics in Pensacola and a third abortion worker was also killed.

Anti-abortion advocates rally in the Capitol during emotional House debate

Thursday, April 18th, 2013 by Dara Kam

The Florida House passed two measures backed by anti-abortion advocates the same day the activists set up shop in the Capitol to garner support for a “personhood” ballot measure.

The House yesterday unanimously approved a measure that requiring that infants born alive after botched abortions receive emergency care and be transported to a hospital, a rare event because third-trimester abortions are outlawed.

The bills debated on the House floor Thursday were more emotional with just two male GOP lawmakers joining Democrats in opposition. Rep. Daphne Campbell, D-Miami, was the lone Democrat voting against it.

A measure (HB 845) that 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 elicited a heated response from black Democrats.

The bill 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. Democrats said Van Zant failed to prove that the practice is prevalent in Florida or elsewhere.

Arguing in favor of the bill, Rep. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, angered his black colleagues by saying the bill is intended to end discrimination because the abortion rate for black women is five times that for white women and “is the single largest cause of death in the African American community.”

Rep. Mia Jones, a black Democrat from Jacksonville, said that lawmakers who want to address race discrimination and disparity should fund preventive care and other programs for minorities.

“So today when you say that you’re standing against race and gender discrimination, we tell you that’s a bold-faced lie,” Jones said.

Rep. Darryl Rouson, a black Democrat from St. Petersburg, said he was “insulted by some of what I’ve heard, including the issue of race and the attempt by a colleague to make someone feel guilty because of genocide.”

“If we want to do something about genocide we can do something in the Department of Corrections. We can do something in the Department of Education,” Rouson said. “I can think of some pro-life stuff we can do that will help the plight of people.”

Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton, was among five Republicains who voted against the measure, which passed by a 71-43 vote.

Thursday’s debate on the issue was probably the last for the session. With less than three weeks left, a companion bill has not been heard in any Senate committee.

The House also passed the “Unborn Children of Violence” by a 74-43 vote. Critics of the “Unborn Children of Violence Act” approved 74-43 by the House Thursday say the measure could open the door for “personhood” in Florida. The measure (HB 759) would make it a separate crime 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.

Proponents say the measure would put Florida in line with federal law and 36 other states.

“We’re here to say an unborn child that can be just a fertilized egg…is sufficient to charge somebody with a serious felony. That’s just outrageous,” said Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek.

But, without using the word “abortion,” Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, argued that the measure is has nothing to do with the emotionally charged issue.

“I’ve heard this bill characterized in a lot of ways that simply aren’t there. I know we have a division in understanding, my friends who are pro-choice and my friends who are pro-life like me. Their issue is it’s about the role of government. For us it’s a matter of life and death.
But this bill is not about that choice,” said Baxley, a former executive director of the Florida Christian Coalition.

The bill holds criminals accountable for harming “a mother and her child and their future and their dreams,” Baxley said.

“Do not let the political correctness and the pressure of others about some other issue deter you from that clear vision about what this bill does,” he said.

Personhood Florida education director Brenda MacMenamin, who lives in Port St. Lucie, was in the Capitol gathering petitions for the “Florida Pro-Life Personhood Amendment” prior to the debate. She also chairs the ballot initiative committee.

North Dakota lawmakers last month passed the nation’s first “personhood amendment” that defines life as beginning at the moment of conception.

“We protect all innocent human life no matter what the age, the race, the creed or the ability,” MacMenamin said. “This is the rhetoric that ended slavery and gave the black race their personhood.”

“We’re here to say an unborn child that can be just a fertilized egg…is sufficient to charge somebody with a serious felony. That’s just outrageous,” said Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek.

But, without using the word “abortion,” Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, argued that the measure is has nothing to do with the emotionally charged issue.

“I’ve heard this bill characterized in a lot of ways that simply aren’t there. I know we have a division in understanding, my friends who are pro-choice and my friends who are pro-life like me. Their issue is it’s about the role of government. For us it’s a matter of life and death.
But this bill is not about that choice,” said Baxley, a former executive director of the Florida Christian Coalition.

The bill holds criminals accountable for harming “a mother and her child and their future and their dreams,” Baxley said.

“Do not let the political correctness and the pressure of others about some other issue deter you from that clear vision about what this bill does,” he said.

Hager and Pilon were again the only Republicans to vote against the measure.

Gov. Scott expresses support for ‘Infants Born Alive’ bill

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott praised lawmakers for moving a measure that would require physicians and health care providers to give emergency care to infants born alive after botched abortions.

“The Infants Born Alive bill, SB 1636 – and its House companion, HB 1129 – ensure common sense measures to help care for the babies who survive abortion procedures. It is essential that we protect the weakest among us, and I am grateful for the Senators and Representatives in both parties who are supporting care for these babies,” Scott, a Republican who is running for re-election, said in a statement.

The Senate proposal received unanimous approval at its first committee stop in the Health Policy Committee Tuesday afternoon and has two more committee stops before it reaches the floor. The House version is ready for a floor vote.

The measure requires infants born alive to be transported to hospitals and receive emergency care. Planned Parenthood representatives withdrew their opposition after a component that would have automatically taken custody of the child away from the parent was removed.

Health care providers say that the chances of an infant being born alive after an abortion are extremely rare because third-trimester abortions are prohibited in Florida unless the life of the mother is in danger. Infants born before then could not survive, some abortion advocates said during previous testimony on the measure.

The bill is one of three pushed by right-to-life advocates moving through the legislature. Another would make it a separate crime if a fetus is injured when a woman is beaten or killed. A third would make it a crime to perform an abortion based on the race or gender of the fetus.

Senate approves ‘Unborn Victims of Violence’ act

Monday, April 8th, 2013 by Dara Kam

After weeks of avoiding right-to-life issues, a Florida Senate committee signed off on a measure that would create separate crimes people who beat up or kill a pregnant woman and who also injure or kill the fetus regardless of whether they knew she was pregnant or not.

The “Unborn Victims of Violence Act,” overwhelmingly approved by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee over the objections of the two Democrats on the panel, also changes all current statutory terms regarding fetuses from “unborn quick child” and “viable fetus” to “unborn child.”

Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith, a lawyer, said he was concerned that bill (SB 876) creates new penalties even if the perpetrator – or the woman herself – had no idea she was pregnant.

“That’s a dangerous step…to now charge people with things they couldn’t possibly have known,” Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, said.”This is murky waters…where we could possibly be charging a person with a crime that they could have no idea or reason or knowledge of…I would ask that we tread lightly.”

Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Florida, which also opposes the bill, spokeswoman Judith Selzer said the organization would support the measure if the intent provision is removed.

But supporters of the bill say that similar Florida laws already make it a crime to be a party to a murder even if the accused did not actually participate in the killing.

And Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, the bill’s sponsor, said that the new crimes would make women safer.

“My argument would be I suggest you don’t do violence against a woman,” she said.

Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, said the measure is too vague regarding “bodily injury” to a fetus.

“Certainly, as a mother I understand or can empathize or sympathize with anyone who is expecting and something happens to their baby. What I can’t support, however, is the notion that bodily injury is listed as an offense on an unborn that there’s no definition of what bodily injury is to an unborn. There’s no indication in the bill as to what point an unborn has a body,” Gibson said.

Stargel said that would be up to courts and juries to decide.

And Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said the proposal reflects society’s values.

“Our criminal laws are replete with situations whereby if you decide to engage in criminal activity, then you’re responsible for what happens in that criminal activity. This law rightfully reflects our values as a society…in which we respect life and this is life. If as a result of criminal activity life is taken away then there should be consequences,” Bradley, a former prosecutor, said.

A House version (HB 759) is ready for a floor vote. Both versions do not create any penalties for abortions or against women who attempt to self-abort.

Earlier in the day, more than 100 Planned Parenthood staff, supporters and students – in town for the group’s annual advocacy day – held a rally on the steps of the old Capitol to encourage lawmakers to expand Medicaid, a move that would provide health coverage for about $1 million uninsured Floridians.

“What our legislators should be focusing on is how to expand health care coverage to men and women and young people throughout this state,” said Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast President Lillian Tamayo. “And what we’re seeing is the usual pivot to divisive issues that really ought to be more between a woman and her doctor and her family.”

Second abortion-related measure headed to House floor

Thursday, April 4th, 2013 by Dara Kam

Abortion providers would be required to provide emergency care to infants born alive or face criminal penalties under a measure unanimously approved by the House Health and Human Services Committee this morning.

It’s the second abortion-related measure sent to the House floor in as many days. But, unlike a proposal that would make it a crime to perform an abortion based on the gender or race of the fetus, the “Infants Born Alive” provision unanimously passed today has the blessing of Planned Parenthood.

The measure would require that an infant born alive after a botched abortion would have to be transported to a hospital and be resuscitated and mirrors a federal law.

Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, an emergency room doctor and the bill’s sponsor, said regulators have no idea if there is a problem with the issue in Florida now. But his bill (HB 1129) would require abortion providers to report the number of any infants born alive in other monthly reports.

“This bill is intended solely to guarantee all respect and humanity to infants born alive regardless of how they enter this world,” Pigman said.

Infants born alive after an abortion and which could survive would only occur in rare circumstances, Pigman said. The first is in partial-birth, or third-trimester abortions outlawed in Florida except when the mother’s life is in danger and ordered by two physicians. The second would be if an abortion is performed on a fetus whose gestation was erroneously dated by an ultrasound or other means, Pigman said.

The committee heard testimony from two Christian Family Coalition members who said they survived their biological mother’s attempts to abort them.

And Lillian Tamayo of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said her group withdrew its opposition to the measure after the sponsor struck a provision that would have automatically stripped the biological mother of her parental rights.

A similar bill is pending in a Senate committee.

House debate mirrors national GOP divide over abortion

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 by Dara Kam

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.

‘No on 6′ launches third TV ad against abortion-related amendment

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012 by Dara Kam

The “No on 6″ political committee, funded largely by Planned Parenthood organizations from around the country, launched a third television ad in Florida urging voters to reject a proposed constitutional amendment dealing with abortion.

The proposal, placed on the November ballot by the GOP-dominated legislature, would ban state money from being used to pay for abortions or insurance policies that cover the procedure except in cases of rape or incest or when the life of the mother is in danger. The measure would also change privacy rights included in the state constitution used in previous court cases to strike down anti-abortion laws.

The latest ad, called “I’ve Seen First Hand,” features a doctor warning that Amendment 6 would bar insurance companies from covering abortions in pregnancies that could threaten a woman’s health.

“No on 6″ has earmarked at least $2 million for TV, radio and online ads before the Nov. 6 election.

A previous ad entitled “Don’t Let Politicians Play Doctor” features a Gov. Rick Scott look-alike barging into a woman’s examination with her doctor.

The “No on 6″ campaign’s first TV ad starred Sandra Fluke.

Sandra Fluke joins Amend 6 opposition

Thursday, October 11th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Sandra Fluke has joined a cadre of abortion advocates urging voters to shoot down Amendment 6, a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot dealing with abortion.

The measure, one of 11 proposed changes to the constitution put on the ballot by the GOP-dominated legislature, would bar the spending of state money for abortions, something already banned by state and federal law. And it would do away with privacy restrictions in the state constitution used to strike down abortion restrictions on other proposed Florida laws.

Fluke drew national attention when Republicans refused to allow her to testify at a congressional hearing earlier this year about whether Georgetown University, a Catholic school where she was a law student, should be required to provide contraception coverage in its insurance plan. Palm Beach resident Rush Limbaugh drew condemnation for bashing attacking Fluke on his radio show, calling her a “slut.” He later apologized.

Randolph, who antagonized GOP, to seek Fla Dem top spot

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Rep. Scott Randolph, an Orlando Democrat who has regularly antagonized House Republicans with his biting floor debate, announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election this fall in a district dramatically redrawn district following this spring’s redistricting.

Instead, Randolph said he will focus on his candidacy for state Democratic Party chairman and efforts to deny Republican Gov. Rick Scott a re-election victory in 2014.

“I am proud of my legislative service,” Randolph said. “For six years I fought back against a radical agenda that continues to shift the tax burden to the middle class, that has shrunk Florida’s commitment to spending on Florida’s students in public schools, and which has led an unrelenting attack on women and all of Florida’s families.”

Randolph’s most memorable moment in Tallahassee may have come when he lashed out in debate against proposed tougher abortion laws by noting that the Republican-ruled Legislature put more focus on protecting businesses from regulation than women’s rights.

Given that, Randolph said, his wife should “incorporate her uterus,” to avoid GOP interference. He was later warned by Republican leaders not to talk about body parts on the House floor.

Randolph’s wife, Susannah, leads Florida Watch Action, a Democratic-leaning grassroots group and is former campaign manager for former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando. She also heads the Pink Slip Rick effort, a kind of flash-mob campaign critical of Gov. Rick Scott.

Randolph has been chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party, but is looking to succeed former state Sen. Rod Smith as Florida Democratic Party chairman next year. The House District 47 seat Randolph now lives in has gone from Democratic leaning to a toss-up district. Randolph said three-quarters of the residents there don’t live in the district he has served since 2006.

In announcing he would not seek re-election, Randolph endorsed former Orange County Commissioner Linda Stewart for the seat. Former Rep. Bob Brooks of Winter Park is among two Republicans running for the seat.

Anti-abortion group launches ‘Yes on 6′ constitutional amendment campaign

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 by Dara Kam

A group of anti-abortion advocates is urging voters to support a constitutional amendment they say will allow lawmakers to revisit a parental consent measure struck down by the courts.

“Citizens for Protecting Taxpayers and Parental Rights” launched the “Yes on 6″ campaign last month, advocating for a constitutional amendment placed on the November ballot by lawmakers last year.

The ballot language does not mention parental consent – which would require a parent to give their permission before a minor girl can have the procedure – but would specifically exempt abortions from the privacy clause of the state’s constitution.

The Florida Supreme Court in 2003 struck down a 1999 parental notification law because of that clause, ruling that even children had the right to privacy.

The following year, voters required a constitutional amendment requiring that parental notification before a girl can have an abortion. Florida law now requires that parents or guardians be notified at least 48 hours before a girl can have an abortion and allows for judge’s to grant permission in certain cases.

But that law doesn’t go far enough, proponents of Amendment 6 on this year’s ballot argued.

Parents should be required to sign off on abortions as they must for body piercings and tattoos, said Randy Armstrong, a Tampa obstetrician and president of Citizens for Protecting Taxpayers and Parental Rights.

“Parental consent is the number one issue that we have,” he said.

The proposed amendment, entitled “Prohibition on Public Funding of Abortions; Construction of Abortion Rights,” would bar public money from being spent on abortions, something already prohibited by federal and state law. Currently, poor women can receive abortions paid for by Medicaid – the state/federal health care program – only in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger. Like all other changes to the constitution, the proposal requires 60 percent of voter approval to pass.

The ballot summary that will appear before voters in November reads:

“This proposed amendment provides that public funds may not be expended for any abortion or for health-benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion. This prohibition does not apply to an expenditure required by federal law, a case in which a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would place her in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, or a case of rape or incest. This proposed amendment provides that the State Constitution may not be interpreted to create broader rights to an abortion than those contained in the United States Constitution. With respect to abortion, this proposed amendment overrules court decisions which conclude that the right of privacy under Article I, Section 23 of the State Constitution is broader in scope than that of the United States Constitution.”

Anti-abortion measure likely off the table this session

Monday, March 5th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Senate Republican leaders are predicting an anti-abortion measure will not get a floor vote after a bipartisan coalition blocked its withdrawal from a committee Monday afternoon.

The Florida House had already signed off on the measure (HB 277) and added controversial “fetal pain” language requiring abortion providers to inform patients that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks, something critics call “junk science” because it is under dispute.

With four days left until the session ends, Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher called the bill dead after the 23-16 vote to remove it from the Senate Budget committee, which required a two-thirds majority, or 26 votes, to pass. It is unlikely the procedure will be invoked again, Thrasher said.

“I don’t think so. That’s was a pretty definitive vote,” Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, said.

Lawmakers last year approved five anti-abortion measures, and moderates are not prepared to go to the board again, Rich said. The proposal would impose tough regulations on abortion clinics, impose a 24-hour waiting period before a woman can get the procedure in a state that abortion providers say already has the most restrictive laws on the books.

“We’re tired of focusing on right-wing social issues like abortion. We did more than enough last year to curtail women’s reproductive rights,” Rich, D-Weston, said.

The bill’s sponsor Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said she was disappointed that the chamber won’t debate the issue on the floor.

But Rich said it might be better for Republicans to avoid drawing attention to abortion, tied up in a national firestorm over Planned Parenthood, contraception and government funding.

“If the Republicans thought about it, they would realize that not having this raw debate on the floor actually will help them,” Rich said. “Because any time we’re going to have this type of discussion now, in light of what’s happening with contraceptives and Rush Limbaugh and all that’s going on in this country, the polls are beginning to show that’s hurting the people who are trying to reduce women’s reproductive rights.”

House passes anti-abortion measure, Senate unlikely to hear it

Thursday, March 1st, 2012 by Dara Kam

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.

House committee approves restrictive abortion bill

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012 by Dara Kam

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.”

Anti-abortion measure passes Senate committee, moving in House tomorrow

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 by Dara Kam

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.

Expectant grandfather Rick Scott ceremonially signs anti-abortion measures

Saturday, July 30th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Expectant grandfather Gov. Rick Scott, Florida’s self-proclaimed jobs governor, shored up his conservative base Saturday with a ceremonial bill signing of four anti-abortion measures that are already law and went into effect nearly a month ago.

Scott, whose daughter Allison Guimard is five months pregnant with what will be his first grandchild, highlighted a controversial law requiring women to have ultrasounds and opt out of hearing the procedure’s details before getting an abortion. Scott’s predecessor Charlie Crist vetoed a similar bill last year.

“These bills are historic,” Scott told a crowd that included leaders from the Florida Baptist Convention, the Florida Catholic Conference and the Florida Family Policy Council. “It’s the right thing to be doing.”

On the campaign trail and since taking office, Scott has focused his attention on bringing jobs to the state where unemployment remains in the double digits and above the national average. Florida’s unemployment rate has dropped 1.4 percent since the former health care executive took office in January.

But on Saturday at the governor’s mansion, Scott flourished his social conservative side, making it clear that the intent of the measures is to discourage women from having abortions.

“I hope this helps make sure this doesn’t happen in the future,” he said.
(more…)

Scott to huddle with anti-abortion organizations at Gov’s Mansion

Friday, July 29th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott plans to showcase new restrictions on abortion approved this spring by the Legislature, huddling Saturday at the Governor’s Mansion with representatives of the Florida Catholic Conference, Florida Baptist Convention and Florida Family Policy Council.

Scott’s already signed the measures into law. But Saturday’s event is aimed at touting what those opposed to abortion rights say was a milestone year.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said John Stemberger, president of the Family Policy Council, who plans to attend Saturday’s ceremonial bill signings. “Over the past 15 years, we’ve taken small steps, passing different pieces of legislation. But to have five major reforms pass as we did this year, I’d say that’s pretty big.”

The legislation divided lawmakers, with most Democrats opposing the measures. Among the most disputed was, legislation requiring a woman seeking an abortion to undergo ultrasound and be given a chance to view the results.

The sweep of abortion legislation prompted Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, to quip at one point during session that since ruling Republicans were so opposed to government regulation for business, his wife should “incorporate her uterus” to be left alone.

Randolph was admonished by House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, for the remark, that later drew nationwide attention. 

 During the session, parental notice requirements were toughened for minors seeking abortions, while another measure barred insurance companies from covering abortions under the new federal health care overhaul. Changes also were approved that allow dollars from Choose Life license tags to be distributed statewide to Choose Life, Inc., which counsels against abortion.

A proposed constitutional amendment for the 2012 ballot bans public tax dollars from going to abortions — mirroring an already existing federal ban. But the measure also would exempt abortion from Florida’s strong constitutional privacy provision — a standard that has scuttled previous legislative attempts at abortion restrictions.

 Stemberger said he wasn’t sure if Scott would use Saturday’s event to call for more action by next year’s Legislature. Among the measures that failed to advance this year were those similar to a law approved by Nebraska in 2010 which restricted abortions after 20 weeks because opponents maintain a fetus can feel pain at that point.

  Brian Burgess, a Scott spokesman, said Friday night that the governor has conducted several ceremonial bill signings this summer “and this one is no different.”
 
“He’s always maintained that he is supports legislation that reflects Floridian’s respect for human life,” Burgess said. ”As for next session, we’re still formulating our agenda.”

After scolding, second anti-abortion bill headed to governor

Thursday, May 5th, 2011 by Dara Kam

After being scolded by two Republicans, the Florida Senate sent to Gov. Rick Scott a second abortion bill this morning that would require women to have an ultrasound before they get an abortion.

Sen. Evelyn Lynn harshly rebuked her colleagues for wasting time with emotional issues and failing to do enough to create jobs and boost the economy.

“I didn’t come up here to come and tell you what you must do with your bodies,” Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, said. “I don’t want to have to continually talk about these issues on this floor when I have people pleading with me to help me please find money to keep my lights on…I will vote for every one of those bills. That’s not why I came up here. And I will vote no not only on this bill but every other bill we have on abortion. It is the wrong thing for us to be discussing and taking endless amounts of time on.”

Sen. Nancy Detert, a Venice Republican, said she resented having to vote on the issue.

“I personally resent writing legislation that acts like I’m too stupid to confer with my own doctor on what I should do. This is not what we were sent up here to do. I have no intention of telling you my faith, my personal problems, and I frankly don’t want to hear yours either,” Detert said.

The ultrasound bill (HB 1127) is one of four measures making it harder for women to get abortions lawmakers have passed during the legislative session making it more difficult for women to get abortions. Last year, Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed a measure similar to the ultrasound bill the Senate approved by a 24-15 vote, with three other Republicans joining Lynn in opposition. Gov. Rick Scott has said he would have signed the measure into law.
(more…)

Bill making it harder for minors to get judicial waivers for abortions headed to governor

Thursday, May 5th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The Florida Senate approved a measure that would make it harder for young women to get a judge to sign off on an abortion without her parents or guardians’ knowledge.

The Senate approved the measure (HB 1247) with a 26-12 vote with just one Republican, Sen. Evelyn Lynn of Ormond Beach, voting against it. The measure now goes to Gov. Rick Scott, who is likely to sign it.

Democrats argued that the many young women seeking the judicial waivers are afraid to tell their parents because they have been raped or abused by a family member and that the current parental notification law requiring a minor to go to a judge anywhere in the appellate district in which she lives is working. Last year, about judges issued about 300 orders allowing the procedure.

Sen. Gwen Margolis, a former Senate president, said she was around before the historic Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing a woman’s right to an abortion. Margolis spoke of a young friend who bled to death after trying to give herself an abortion because she was too scared to tell her parents.

“That’s what happens with a lot of these young women. They’re afraid to tell their families…This is the real world. In the olden days, we had lots of deaths because of this kind of action,” said Margolis, D-Miami.

But Sen. Alan Hays, the bill sponsor, said that abortion counselors are taking children across the state to judges who would be more likely to grant the waiver.

“I find it totally and completely repulsive that we would allow an adult to take one of these 13 or 14-year-old young ladies and drive her from Crestview to Fernandina Beach to get an abortion,” Hays, R-Umatilla, argued.

Stay tuned for the vote on a second abortion bill requiring women to have ultrasounds before they get abortions. The Senate is now debating the measure, similar to one vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist last year.

Florida on brink of nation’s strictest parental notification abortion bill

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Florida lawmakers are poised to make the state’s parental notification of abortion laws stricter, making it more difficult for a minor to get a judges’ approval for the procedure.

By a 20-19 vote today, the Florida Senate rejected an amendment that would have kept the current law allowing minors to get a waiver from a judge anywhere in the appellate circuit in which she lives. The bill (SB 1770, HB 1247) instead would limit girls seeking the waiver to the circuit court.

That’s problematic for minors who live in rural communities or small counties whose family members are likely neighbors of or on close terms with courthouse workers or observers, argued Democrats and some Republicans, putting her confidentiality at risk. Many of the young women seeking the judicial permission for the abortions are victims of rape or incest, they said.

“I’m sorry that some people in here don’t understand that there are families where if a young woman goes to them she could be beaten or even killed because of…incest or rape,” said Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich of Weston. “We should not be doing anything to place further barriers in front of these young women…There is no need to change this.”

But Sen. Alan Hays, who sponsored the bill, said that young women have plenty of opportunity to see a judge in their own community and should not be allowed to judge-shop.

“I find it preposterous that a young lady…might be put in a vehicle and transported all the way from Escambia County to Duval County just so she can get an abortion without her parents knowing about it,” Hays, R-Umatilla, said.

Abortion rights advocates contend that the measure, already approved by the House and expected to be passed by the Senate tomorrow, would make Florida’s parental notification laws the strictest in the nation.

(more…)

Senate sends two abortion measures back to the House

Thursday, April 28th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The Senate passed two amended House abortion bills, sending back slightly watered-down versions of a proposed constitutional amendment and a bill barring some private insurers companies from providing abortion coverage.

Yesterday, the House approved a half-dozen anti-abortion measures after nearly five hours of debate.

The Senate spent less than 20 minutes discussing the two measures Thursday morning.

The first (HB 97) would bar insurance policies purchased in whole or in part from the new health care exchanges from offering abortion coverage. The Senate added additional exceptions to the measure that already includes exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother to include the health of the mother.

The second (HJR 1179) would ask voters whether the state constitution should bar public money from being used to pay for abortions. That measure, too, was amended to include exceptions for the mother’s health.

“I resent the fact that now wer’e further eroding a woman’s right to do what she wants to do with her body,” objected Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, who voted against the measure.

But Sen. Anitere Flores, the bill’s sponsor, said that curbing abortions was one of the reasons she ran for office.

“This is an issue that for some of us was the reason we came to Tallahassee, to help…the lives of the unborn,” Flores, R-Miami, said.

Florida political tweeters
Video: Politics stories
Categories
Archives