A pair of abortion bills approved by the Republican-led Legislature and expected to be signed by Gov. Rick Scott are more evidence the party wants to “turn the clock back,” on women’s rights, three Democratic leaders said Tuesday.
Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was joined by Rep. Lori Berman of Lantana and Val Demings, a former Orlando police chief now running for Orange County mayor, in condemning the legislation (HB 59 and HB 1047).
DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Wasserman Schultz called the measures “extremist” and examples of “tea party-infused legislation.”
Berman said the legislation was unnecessary. “Women make decisions to terminate pregnancies for a variety of reasons, and never are these decisions done lightly,” she said.
The Democrats, though, said they held little hope that Scott would veto the legislation, which passed the Legislature on mostly party-line votes.
One bill (HB 59) would allow separate criminal charges for the death of a fetus no matter what its stage of development was when a crime was committed against its mother. The other measure (CS/HB 1047) could effectively reduce the time period that a woman could legally have a late-term abortion by several weeks.
Rep. Lori Berman
Republican lawmakers during debate this spring called the bills “common sense” measures.
The legislation setting tougher penalties for harming a fetus was dubbed the “Florida Unborn Victims of Violence Act,” and stems from a Tampa case where a young woman six weeks pregnant, Remi Lee, was given pills by a former boyfriend, causing her to abort.
The bill would expand a law that already allows a separate manslaughter charge for a fetus that could survive outside the womb.
It also would toughen penalties for anyone convicted of a crime resulting in the death of a fetus, allowing murder charges to be leveled in cases where a fetus was considered viable, and lesser criminal charges in other cases.
The other bill would require a doctor to examine a woman wanting an abortion and refuse to perform the procedure if fetal viability was determined. Supporters of the bill have said that could prevent abortions around the 20th week of pregnancy, whereas Florida law currently bars most abortions following the 24th week.