After lawmakers passed a 15-week limit last year, the Florida House on Thursday started moving forward with a proposal that would prevent abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
The GOP-controlled House Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee voted 13-5 along party lines to approve the proposed restrictions (HB 7) after hearing often-emotional testimony about issues such as women’s health and pregnancies caused by rapes.
Bill sponsor Jenna Persons-Mulicka, R-Fort Myers, said the bill “promotes life” and supports families.
“It’s a bill that recognizes the importance and value of the life of innocent, unborn human beings,” Persons-Mulicka said.
But Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, D-Parkland, described the bill as a “de facto abortion ban” and said it doesn’t take into account different circumstances that women face when they become pregnant.
“We talk about being a free state, and this is literally the antithesis of that,” Hunschofsky said.
The bill, filed last week, has quickly refueled a fierce debate about abortion rights in Florida — amid a broader national debate after the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion-rights decision.
The Senate Health Policy Committee is scheduled Monday to take up a bill (SB 300) that is similar to Persons-Mulicka’s bill. With House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, supporting the bills — and Republicans holding large majorities in the Legislature — a six-week abortion limit likely will pass in the coming weeks.
The proposals, however, include a major caveat: Seven abortion clinics and a physician filed a constitutional challenge to the 15-week limit that lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis approved last year.
A key issue in that case is whether the limit violates a privacy clause in the Florida Constitution that has helped protect abortion rights in the state for more than three decades. Under the House and Senate bills, moving to a six-week limit would be contingent on the Florida Supreme Court effectively upholding the 15-week law. It is unclear when the court will rule on the challenge, though it probably will be after the legislative session.
Persons-Mulicka said the decision to seek a six-week limit came after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. When lawmakers passed the 15-week limit, the decision had not been issued.
She said fetal heartbeats can be detected at six weeks of pregnancy, and “what greater evidence of life is there but a heartbeat?”
Opponents, however, said many women don’t know they are pregnant at six weeks, which would prevent them from being able to get abortions in Florida.
“A six-week ban is almost a near-ban,” said Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat who unsuccessfully proposed an amendment to strip the six-week limit from the bill. “It is going to be operationalized as a complete ban because people don’t know they are pregnant at six weeks.”
In addition to the six-week limit, the bill includes other proposed changes, such as barring the use of telehealth for abortions; requiring that abortion-inducing drugs be provided in person by physicians; preventing state funds from being used to pay for women to travel to other states for abortions; and expanding services provided through organizations that counsel women against abortions.
Last year’s 15-week law has drawn criticism because it does not include exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.
The new bills would allow abortions up to 15 weeks of pregnancy in cases of rape or incest, but they would require women to present documentation to prove they were victims. Such documentation could include restraining orders, police reports or medical records.
Opponents of the bill, however, said many women do not report that they are victims of rape or incest, which would prevent them from having abortions.
The House panel approved the bill after hearing from numerous speakers, including from women who said they were raped or had to make difficult decisions about terminating pregnancies because of health issues.
Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton, said abortion is health care, and lawmakers should make sure women can have the procedures “safely and “legally.”
“Abortion is health care. Abortion is health care. Abortion is health care,” Skidmore said. “We are talking about health care, but it has been turned into something like a moral decision to be made instead of health care.”
But Rep. Linda Chaney, R-St. Pete Beach, said many women are traumatized by past decisions to have abortions.
“I counseled women years after their abortions, and they are having complete mental breakdowns from their abortions,” Chaney said.
–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida
Bailey’s Mom says
Unbelievable….Florida is not even close to being to being a free state, unless of course you are a white man!
Come on, we have to to better!
Rick G says
“Bill sponsor Jenna Persons-Mulicka, R-Fort Myers, said the bill “promotes life” and supports families.”
This begs the question is how does it promote life and support families? Is the Legislature willing to expand Medicaid and other health care facilities to help take care of these new babies once born? Are they willing to provide the social safety net that many of the new parents and their kids may need due to another mouth to feed? I hope the women of Florida who voted for these extreme right wingers will love living their lives by way of the religion of the day demands.
Merrill Shapiro says
Not just the ” The GOP-controlled House Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee” but also the “The Misogynist -controlled House Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee.”
Further, there is no such thing as an “innocent, unborn human beings.” People who read the Bible know from reading Genesis, Chapter 2, Verse 7 that “God formed humans of the dust of the ground, and breathed into their nostrils the breath of life; and humans became a living souls.” Before respiration, fetuses are not humans and have no soul.
Not humans? How do they suddenly become human upon taking the first breath? God says he knits you in the womb, and already knows the number of hairs on your head and the number of your days. Was he talking about an animal of some sort?
Allen Pelley says
@Merrill Shapiro, can’tfoolme,
Yes, our morality and concepts of “freedom and liberty” are founded in morality which is based on religious beliefs, but our county’s laws are supposed to be religiously neutral. Please re-frame your arguments on laws without quoting the Bible.
If you need to resort to quoting God or the Bible (one and the same) to support a law, then it probably shouldn’t be a law. Government should legislate freedom and liberty, not morality and religion.
Fetuses in the womb should be considered “living souls” and afforded the rights that other babies have when 1) a woman carrying a fetus can purchase a life insurance policy for that fetus in the event that it “dies” before birth, 2) when the woman is able to receive court ordered child support for her fetus prior to birth. What… impossible? Not realistic? Well then, more facts confirming that life begins at birth, NOT conception.
Thoughts of Florida…
Florida, where dignity goes to die.
The “kick ’em when they’re down” state.
The Bombay Canary State.
California and New York are taking applications
Nothing beats a New York City steam tunnel Bombay Canary…
Bill C says
North Korea, China and Russia are also accepting applications for those who believe in suppressive autocratic government control of the daily lives of citizens.
I Just Love Flagler Beach says
Yeah, I’m just loving this Free State of Florida.
Your site has the visuals, only thing missing is the multimedia. Imagine: your close-up, then the camera (soft focus) sees your Citation bank and head toward a horizon in a sky filled by shafts of light from desantis’ eyes…
Music swells — take it on home:
In 2021 FL had ~10,000 children in foster care. “ DCF reports foster parents are paid $429 a month for children up to age 5; paid $440 a month for children ages 6 to 12; paid $515 a month for children age 13 and older … The state paid foster parents $45 million last year.”
Where will you be when the kids need you? Where have you been up until now?
Bill C says
Absolutely agree. There are already too many unwanted children. All these “pro life” people are interested in is virtue signaling. Unless you have at least one adopted child yourself just shut up and mind your own business.
Right on Freedom Says!
And that’s not to mention abuses that go on towards these kids while in foster care. Certainly not all of them, but many foster parents are just in it for the money. That’s a lot of kids in the system. Many are quite adoptable but what about violent kids, want them in your home? These f’ing republicans knock me sick. So self righteous, thinking they’re doing “gods work” they sicken me. I’ll bet if their 12 year old daughter were raped and impregnated they’d take her to the nearest state where abortion s legal. And LGBTQ youth? Do they think Jesus would approve of this treatment? He’d say “I never knew you” and so the weeping and gnashing of teeth. There’s not true freedom here, we’ll maybe for white men. It’s a very sad time we live in, we as a nation are heading into dark times, watch The Handmaids Tale, it may be our future….
I saw the picture of the people at the meeting, all white mostly Republicans. Now women have to prove they were assaulted before an abortion. This is what we get when crazy nonthinkers are in control. Most in control are white and look where this city is going. It will get worst before it get better. Keep voting for the Republicans and soon we will not have anything but poverty and death.
Christian moralists say they are “pro life” yet they are the first ones to condemn unwed mothers as “welfare queens”, support eliminating financial aid for them. They are all for “the Wall”, to keep families fleeing poverty and violence out of the US, separating children from their parents, putting them in cages. In Mexico, it is estimated over 80% of the population identifies as Catholic, likewise for most of Central America. Supposedly they’re just not the right kind of Christians for the “pro life” extremists.
@Foresee. . . They are “pro-fetus”. . . certainly not pro-life! Excellent comment!
wishful thinking says
Bunch of sick Nasi brainless sub humans who should have never been elected . It is common to skip a ‘period’ or two for many woman whose bodies were not set on alarm clocks. Any legislator who votes for such a cruel, moronic, sick bill should be removed from office – I’ll be glad to help escort them out ( of Florida as well as their ‘office’)
This is how the Nazi’s started – only they used monetary means – little difference in my book. BTW I am a registered Republican.
Whew – now that I got that off my chest I can enjoy my ‘Irish Coffee’.. I don’t think St. Patrick nor any saint would approve these braindead lunatics.
Unfortunately, nothing is likely to change these wingnuts’ support of the “Handmaid’s Tale” version of what a woman should be, how they should live their lives, and what they should be allowed to do and, more importantly, what they are NOT allowed to do by men who desire to rule over every aspect of their very existence like slave masters. I think the only way progressives would begin to see significant changes in the thought process of these very conservative right wingers is if states were able to pass legislation banning men from being able to obtain penile enhancement meds from a pharmacy, or the ability to have any surgery procedure to improve their penile performance, or legally prohibited from being able to impregnate a woman until going before a family court judge and showing proof through financial statements that he has the means and ability to provide for any children up until they reach the age of 18. If, instead of women, men were subject to draconian restrictions put in place to stop unwanted pregnancies and abortions caused by their virility and desire to spread their seed whenever and wherever they want, can you just imagine the outcries we would hear about their “God given right” to, well, you know.