Florida legislator files ‘fetal pain’ bill

By | 12.05.11 | 10:38 am

State Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville (Pic by Meredith Geddings, via myfloridahouse.gov)

Florida Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville, has introduced a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks.

The measure is similar to a handful of bills seen last year in legislatures across the country: so-called “fetal pain” bills that have been found to be “neither scientifically nor constitutionally sound” by researchers. Current law protects a woman’s right to have an abortion up to 22-24 weeks, at least.

The most recent study on this issue, published in Current Biology, found that a fetus does not feel pain until 35 to 37 weeks of gestation.

During its most recent legislative session, Florida was among a handful of states that considered “fetal pain” legislation. Even though Florida did not enact House Bill 321, Idaho, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas and Indiana all passed similar bills.

The sponsor of last session’s bill, state Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, said he filed House Bill 321 because he’s “pro-life, a devout Catholic and based on the scientific evidence,” he believes “you can have a debate on when a child can feel pain and when that fetus is viable.”

However, he did concede that that the science behind his law was “inconclusive.”

Davis’ bill is titled the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” the same name as Trujillo’s measure.

According to the summary, House Bill 839:

Provides legislative findings, requires physician performing or inducing abortion to first make determination of probable post-fertilization age of unborn child, provides exception, prohibits abortion if probable postfertilization age of unborn child is 20 or more weeks, provides exception, provides record-keeping and reporting requirements for physicians, requires annual report by DOH, provides financial penalties for late reports and civil actions to require reporting, provides for disciplinary action against noncompliant physicians, provides criminal penalties for certain violations, provides that penalty may not be assessed against woman involved in such abortion or attempt, provides for civil actions by certain persons for violations, provides for attorney fees in certain circumstances, requires court in actions for violations to rule on whether anonymity of woman upon whom abortion has been performed or attempted be preserved from public disclosure if she does not consent to disclosure, requires specified findings if court determines that anonymity be preserved.

This is the second anti-abortion bill introduced for this session. The other has been called an “omnibus anti-choice bill” because it brings together a slew of anti-abortion measures — ranging from further restrictions on third trimester abortions for women facing health risks to onerous restrictions on abortion providers and the creation of a waiting period for legal abortions.

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