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Florida House Passes 24-Hour Abortion Waiting Period, Adding to Increasing Curbs

| April 22, 2015

abortion rights retreat florida

Abortion rights have been in retreat in much of the country because of laws such as the one the Florida House passed on Wednesday. (Edson Chilundo)

With the Senate also poised to take up the issue, the Florida House on Wednesday approved a bill that would require 24-hour waiting periods before women can have abortions.

The measure (HB 633), sponsored by freshman Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, passed on a vote of 77-41, largely along party lines.

The debate followed party lines, too, with Republicans arguing for the sanctity of life and Democrats arguing for the right to choose.

“This is not a procedure — it is a life,” said Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Inverness. “Representative Sullivan, the greatest consequence of your bill is a beautiful baby.”

But House Minority Leader Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, called the bill “an example of government intrusion.”

“This is not a reflection period — this is a 24-hour ban,” Pafford said.

The bill would add the 24-hour waiting period to the conditions for informed consent before women can end pregnancies. The full Senate on Thursday is expected to take up an identical measure (SB 724).

Sullivan said her bill would “empower” women by giving them more time to reflect before making such decisions.

“I am here today as an advocate for those women who are being pressured,” she said Wednesday.

Proponents call the waiting period “empowerment,” opponents call it a 24-hour ban.

Elected last year at age 23, Sullivan has said she’s witnessed pressure placed upon women by their loved ones — especially a spouse or a boyfriend — to make a hasty decision about having abortions.

“I care about the women who have sat in my office,” she said. “I care about the women who have cried in committee.”

But House Democrats contended that the bill was just another barrier to safe, legal abortion in Florida.

“Little by little, this state is whittling away at this right,” said Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa.

“Not only does this bill not empower women, I believe it takes our power away,” Rep. Cynthia Stafford, D-Miami, said. “If I have to wait, you’ve taken my power away from me for a decision I’ve already made — as if I can’t make decisions on my own, in my own time.”

The bill’s supporters, however, said abortion should require a waiting period for the same reasons that other medical procedures are delayed.

“Abortion is the outlier,” said Rep. Cary Pigman, an Avon Park Republican who is a physician. “No other elective, significant, surgical procedure is ever done on the same day as the initial consultation …whether it’s having your knee repaired, your gall bladder taken out or your buttocks improved. People change their minds. They do it all the time.”

Applause followed many of the speeches supporting the bill, intimations of the vote to come.

Democrats already had tried to amend the bill to alleviate what they called a hardship to poor women, for whom two trips to abortion clinics in other counties would represent additional costs and, in many cases, extra time off from work and family obligations.

Sullivan rejected proposals to allow women to consult with doctors online or to have nurses explain the procedure on the first visit.

On Tuesday, however, Sullivan accepted an amendment by Rep. Rene Plasencia, R-Orlando, to include exceptions for women who are victims of rape, incest, domestic violence or human trafficking.

Those exceptions could be granted only if women have police reports, restraining orders, medical records or other documentation to show why they should not have to make two trips to have abortions.

But Rep. Victor Torres, D-Orlando, said that as “a retired cop,” he knew well that most victims do not report such crimes.

“A woman is violated by a family member — incest, domestic violence — do you think she’s going to run to the police and report it?” Torres asked. “We see what women suffer. They don’t tell anyone.”

–Margie Menzel, News Service of Florida

State Abortion Policies (2015)

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8 Responses for “Florida House Passes 24-Hour Abortion Waiting Period, Adding to Increasing Curbs”

  1. Sandra Reynolds says:

    I disagree whole heartedly with this intrusion, once again, into our lives by complete strangers. I can assure these representatives that 24 more anxiety filled hours will not make any difference. Do they not realize that the woman has been thinking every minute of the past six to eight weeks about this difficult decision? Are they really trying to empower women by this decision? I think not. They are only empowering the government to control a very personal choice, as heart breaking as it is.

  2. JimBob says:

    Any time a republican talks about “empowering women” I want to puke. Let’s see: wider halls, admitting privileges at the (politically affiliated) local hospital, vaginal probes, and sonogram lectures–all (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) in order to empower women. All but the most hypocritical on the right acknowledge these are lies. But James Dobson, the Kochs and ALEC all trump the constitution.

  3. Obama 2015 says:

    Awesome. Let’s now do the same for Firearms and Ammo.

    If you want to pry into my personal medical decisions then I want to pry into your gun safe.

    • Anonymous says:

      There’s a 72 hour wait for guns.

      • Obama 2015 says:

        For a handgun from a dealer. Not for a Rifle and not at a gun show or peer to peer.

        The Florida Constitution also authorizes counties to enact three to five-day waiting periods, excluding weekends and legal holidays, in connection with the sale of any firearm occurring in or on “property to which the public has the right of access” within the county.3 This provision is directed at gun shows and other events open to the public outside of retail firearms establishments. Concealed weapons permit holders are not subject to such waiting periods when purchasing a firearm

  4. Obama 2015 says:

    Also I’ve had two medical procedures the same day (No other elective, significant, surgical procedure is ever done on the same day).

    One was to remove a mole from my chest and another was a broken hand. I went to the doctor that day and if I didn’t want the procedure I could walk out at any time and do it when I wanted. What’s to say I couldn’t do the same if I needed an abortion.

    Also I believe if you have a colonoscopic and they see something they remove them the same day.

    Another thing, How are they going to enforce this? What are the fines? Doesn’t this increase government control in my life? Sounds pretty communist to me, I guess the GOP is now the red party for sure.

  5. What is wrong with this society? says:

    I had an abortion in the 2nd trimester. My baby was going to kill me. I sought council with every doctor I could find in the area. The abortion process was the most difficult and painful thing I’ve been through. Rather than being protected and and told everything will be fine I feel shunned by our society. I read that when polled more than 99% of women and men say they would not have a medical abortion no matter the reason. When faced with the real situation less than 1% do not abort. It’s easy to say this will never happen to you, trust me I know. But it just might to you or a wife or daughter or friend. Some might say my situation was different because the baby had no chance of surviving separated from my body and every chance of killing me. I say my situation is no different from anyone having and abortion, simply because I don’t know what it’s like to be in their situation. I was part of the 99% who never abort for any reason, but I did.

  6. A.S.F. says:

    What…no “24 hour waiting period” for vasectomies mentioned in this bill? How odd!

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