Florida’s perennial abortion battle re-emerged Tuesday, as a House panel approved bills that would block abortions after 20 weeks, require 24-hour waiting periods and target abortions that might be motivated by the race or gender of the fetus.
The Republican-dominated House Health & Human Services Access Subcommittee approved three bills in party-line votes, after testimony and debate that reflected the country’s deep divide about the abortion issue.
“I don’t think that killing these children should be convenient,” Rep. Mike Horner, a Kissimmee Republican said at one point during debate about a wide-ranging bill (HB 277) that includes a 24-hour waiting period and places new regulations on abortion clinics and doctors.
Critics repeatedly hammered the bills as infringing on the ability of women and doctors to make medical decisions, with Rep. Gwyn Clarke-Reed, D-Deerfield Beach, describing a bill targeting the race or gender of fetuses (HB 1327) as “insulting.”
“I think it’s a very dangerous process to legislate morality,” Rep. Steve Perman, D-Boca Raton, said at another point in the meeting.
The meeting renewed a years-long legislative fight about whether Florida should place more restrictions on abortions. People on both sides of the issue filled a meeting room in the Capitol’s Knott Building, with speakers ranging from representatives of Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union to a series of abortion opponents who testified about their decisions to give birth instead of terminating pregnancies.
The subcommittee voted 9-5 to approve a bill (HB 839) that would prevent abortions after 20 weeks unless a “medical emergency” exists that could lead to a woman’s death or permanent physical damage. Sponsor Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville, said some researchers say fetuses are able to feel pain at 20 weeks of development.
“I think this bill seeks to protect arguably the frailest members of our society from pain,” Davis said.
But Rep. Lori Berman, D-Delray Beach, questioned Davis’ use of 20 weeks, describing it as an “arbitrary, unscientific number.” The scientific community is undecided on the issue, with researchers citing anywhere from 19 to 29 weeks as the stage when felt pain may begin. Berman also said she thinks the bill violates the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion until the “viability” of the fetus–that is, the point at which the fetus is able to live outside the mother’s womb.
In 2010, 79,908 abortions were performed in Florida, with 73,883 performed at 12 weeks or earlier and 6,025 performed between 13 and 24 weeks, according to a House staff analysis
The most debate Tuesday centered on HB 277, which was approved 10-5. Critics said the proposal, which would require a 24-hour waiting period, could pose logistical problems for women who would have to travel to abortion clinics twice.
Also, the bill would require new clinics to be wholly owned and operated by doctors who have received residency training in abortion-related procedures. Planned Parenthood lobbyist Emily Caponetti said such requirements would make it hard to open and operate clinics and would limit access to abortions.
But bill sponsor Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, said the 24-hour waiting period, for example, is aimed at making sure women are fully informed before deciding to go ahead with abortions.
Meanwhile, the panel voted 9-5 to approve a bill that would require doctors to sign affidavits confirming that abortions are not being done because of the fetus’ race or gender. According to a House staff analysis, the U.S. has condemned such practices in China and India. Four states Arizona, Oklahoma, Illinois and Pennsylvania now prohibit abortions based on gender. Of those, Arizona also prohibits abortions based on race.
Sponsor Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, said abortions based on those factors are a “barbaric practice” and that the bill is aimed at preventing discrimination.
“Race or gender should not be a factor in the decision to have an abortion,” he said.
But opponents said the bill, dubbed the “Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity for Life Act” is designed to stigmatize abortion.
“This is perhaps one of the most-disingenuous pieces of legislation I have ever seen,” said Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach.
–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida
Jennifer Kuiper says
I know this is a tough issue for most but I just have to comment. While I consider myself liberal on most issues, this is one time I actually agree with the Republicans (as hard as it is for me to say that). I think having an abortion at 20 weeks is absurd. Babies, while few, have been known to survive outside of the womb at 20 weeks with proper medical care. If a woman’s life is in danger, I can see making that choice. But why wait until 20 weeks to secure an abortion? It doesn’t make sense. Most women know they’re pregnant during their first trimester. And just one further tidbit: The woman whose last name is Roe, for whom abortion was legalized, i.e. Roe v. Wade, never had an abortion and is a huge pro-life advocate today. Her name is Norma McCorvey and you can see her story here: http://www.virtuemedia.org/ads-television-norma-jane-roe.shtml
I agree with Jennifer. I have personally experienced abortion and while I do consider myself pro-choice, I also place limitations on it. As Jennifer stated, a fetus can survive outside the mother’s body after 20 weeks. To me, the mother relinquishes her right to make decisions for that fetus. Speaking solely on myself, I was 19 when I had an abortion. It was an extremely hard and personal decision. I found out I was pregnant at 3 weeks along. Unfortunately, I had to wait until I was 5 weeks along in order for any dot to show up on the ultrasound. However, that extra 2 weeks gave me a chance to really think about my decision. That said, there is absolutely no reason other than medically related that should warrant a woman to carry a fetus for 20 weeks or more and suddenly decide to abort it. Further, I do not believe that abortions should be covered by any kind of insurance. Just as I would not want someone to impose their beliefs on me, I would not want to impose mine on them.
Angela Smith via Facebook says
These bills are about restricting access to abortion, PERIOD. For a party that purports to be all about “getting government off our backs”, the GOP seems to be in a hot heavy hurry to get government INTO a woman’s uterus.
Terrie Carhart Shunkwiler via Facebook says
No I think that maybe it might be about how many babies are killed without the mother given an educated choice. http://www.priestsforlife.org/testimonies/default.aspx?tcat=1#testimonylist
This why the right for women and men to use contraceptives should never be denied and made available.
Lori Cooke-Young via Facebook says
Most people that seek an abortion have already made an educated choice for them. Restricting this is simply about our government saying we should not be allowed to have any control over our own lives.
This is a barbaric and cruel procedure. I applaud anonymous for speaking on this subject that was so personal to her.
I’m Catholic, a republican and don’t want this proceedure to be used but if it not legal then what will happen is the back door abortions that will take place.
It will be the repeated times of the 40’s 50’s 60’s when you needed to know someone who knew someone that can help you.
Usually a medical student needing extra cash who thinks they can perform this henious proceedure and ends up killing both these young people.
I remember going on vacation to Club Med and meeting up with some gragging guy who was a partner with a doctor in several abortion clinics in Washington DC.
This next few words will turn your stomach.
This character said to me it was a great investment.” They come in all day long and we clean them out they pay I’m pulling down 10k a day.” How insenitive, and cruel.
Those words still make me sick.
What a pig I could not even look at this jerk without wanting to punch his lights out. At least he broke his leg during the vacation he was tripped during the vollyball game.
I told him I was sorry! Yea sure……………
Sorry to get off track but many people benefit from abortions being legal.
The proceedure is done is a safe sterile enviorment you expect and hope.
I’m sorry I can’t think of anyone else that would benefit form an abortion, maybe I’m getting soft here what can I say?
Certainly not the baby, child, fetus, it, sounds impersonal, Right?
It’s the only why you can justify an abortion by being so impersonal, because you know it’s not right but a woman will have no choice but to do it because it is her right.
You see, she is the one that lives with the guilt. she is the one that has to think about it more than the guy who was also so involved. MEN they did not care when they made you pregnant as long as you go get “that abortion.”
Sorry ladies remember that pig I spoke about in my comment above need i say more?
Oh you abortionist you are the worst. You may believe that you are protecting the womans rights but if you did not perform this act there would not be any abortions.
Let’s tell the truth abortionist it’s all about the money. The money as mentioned in my commentary above. That pig investor was making 10k a day and this was in 1978. Just 5 years after Roe vs. wade!
I’m just another person who knows that life is precious and should be regarded as a miracal not a proceedure…………………………
Liana G says
Another prochoice liberal agreeing with this decision. I find it hard that some would actually consider an abortion based on sex or race of the fetus, but apparently they do. Also, 20 weeks is approximately 5 months. At this stage, the fetus or baby can make faces, yawn, stretch, and suck on a thumb. And this makes it difficult for me to accept abortion unless the circumstances are very grave. My final thought on this topic is that abortions should not be used as a contraceptive of last resort for engaging in promiscuous sex. I don’t consider myself prudish, I have 4 kids, but I do feel that a thoughtless disregard for life should not be carelessly encouraged.
A touching story worth sharing
“One of the most striking stories of a cat’s courage came from Brooklyn, New York City, in 1996. On 29 March that year, in the area known as East New York, an auto-dealer’s abandoned premises caught fire. Fire engines were soon on the scene and the blaze was almost extinguished when Fireman David Gianelli heard faint mewing coming from near the ruined building. He found there, huddled together, two 4-week-old kittens; and three others were found just across the street. Their mother, who had been badly burned, lay nearby.
She had rescued her brood from the burning building and, as she could carry only one kitten out at a time, must have made five separate journeys into the thick, choking smoke and blistering heat in order to do so. Her devotion, courage and persistence are almost unbelievable.”…
Geezer Butler says
8 weeks maximum would be better.
20-weeks is a 5 month-old pregnancy. (right?)
20 weeks is too long to hem and haw over the little life you’re carrying.
I wonder, how can any doctor perform partial-birth abortions?
20 weeks is the threshold? Correct me if I’m wrong, please.
I wish I could blind my mind’s eye right now.
Mark Anderson says
Republicans lie about abortion. They are opposed to it and it has nothing to do with making women, safe. Restricting access and delaying tactics like these only make unsafe abortions more common. Republicans simply want to take away a woman’s right to control her own body.