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.”