Florida Senate Votes 26-13 For Abortion Waiting period, Sending Bill to Gov. Scott
FlaglerLive | April 24, 2015
A bill that would require 24-hour waiting periods before women can have abortions is heading to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott, following passage Friday in the Florida Senate.
By a vote of 26-13, the Republican-dominated Senate approved the bill (HB 633), which the House passed Wednesday. The Senate vote was along straight party lines.
“There is nothing I will be more proud of than to be a voice for the unborn,” Sen. Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican and the Senate sponsor, said in her closing statement.
Flores said the bill would add a day-long waiting period to the current requirements for informed consent before women can have abortions in Florida. The current requirements include discussing such issues as medical risks to the woman and fetus, a description of the fetus and a list of entities that offer alternatives to terminating pregnancies.
“All that we’re requiring is that it be done 24 hours prior,” she said.
Lawmakers earlier this week approved adding exceptions for victims of rape, incest, domestic violence or human trafficking to the bill. However, those victims could only get waivers of the 24-hour waiting period if they can produce police reports, restraining orders, medical records or other documentation.
“All of this documentation is unnecessary government intrusion into the lives of women,” said Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando.
Flores on Thursday fended off a series of amendments that Democrats said would alleviate hardships on women for whom two trips to abortion clinics in other counties could put the procedure out of financial reach.
“Seventy percent of the counties in this state don’t have an abortion provider,” Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, said Friday.
Meanwhile, Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, said he opposed the bill because it was unconstitutional.
“Under the Florida Constitution, we have a right to privacy,” he said. “I would not be surprised to see this bill challenged immediately.”
After the vote, Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said the bill’s opponents would turn their attention to urging Scott to veto the measure.
“But should he sign it, advocates for reproductive rights will take whatever steps possible to ensure women’s access to health care is guaranteed without delay,” Goodhue wrote in an email.
A Scott spokeswoman said he would review the bill before making any decision.
As with other debates as the bill moved toward passage, Friday’s discussion juxtaposed a woman’s right to choose with the sanctity of life.
“As a woman, that should be my right (to make reproductive decisions),” said Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa.
“This is not a medical procedure,” said Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island. “This is a life.”
Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, said the bill really is about “restricting access” to abortions. Clemens said there were better ways of reducing the number of abortions, such as spending money on sexual health, family planning and sex education.
“But instead of doing those things that are proven to work, we’re basically trying to find a way of restricting women’s access,” he said.
However, Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, said the measure “does not limit a woman’s right to have an abortion.”
“It’s making sure we have the same standard for women as we do in every other medical procedure, and that there is not a business, the business of abortion, trying to take advantage of women and trying to play on their emotion and talk them into something that they make money on and you spend the rest of your life regretting,” Stargel said.
Planned Parenthood’s Goodhue said such charges “are simply not true.”
“Our physicians, nurse practitioners and family-planning assistants all work hard every day to provide high-quality, non-judgmental, affordable health care to women and men to enable them to make the right decision for them,” Goodhue wrote in an email. “Decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy or raise a child should be left to a woman, her family, her faith and her health care provider.”
Stargel also said that pregnancies resulting from rape, incest, domestic violence or human trafficking provide “all the more reason to reflect” before having an abortion.
–Margie Menzel, News Service of Florida