Today, a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats in the Florida Senate blocked an effort to take a controversial anti-abortion bill out of committee for a final vote in that chamber.
The bill, which has been derided by civil rights and reproductive rights advocates, passed on the floor of the Florida House last week.
State Sen. Nan Rich, D- Sunrise, who has been an outspoken opponent of the bill, said today that she hoped the successful effort to stop the bill from moving out of committee was a signal that the bill would not make it to a final vote before the session ends this week, or that it would not pass if it did.
Republican State Sens. Evelyn Lynn, Nancy Detert, Michael Bennett and Paula Dockery and Charlie Dean were among the lawmakers that voted against the move.
SB 290, which has been described by critics as an “omnibus anti-choice” bill, was written to include several anti-abortion measures that did not pass in the GOP-led Florida Legislature last year. Among its many provisions, the bill would place onerous restrictions on abortion providers statewide. The bill also requires that all abortion clinics be wholly-owned and operated by a physician, which groups such as Planned Parenthood say would make it nearly impossible for the chain of women’s health clinics to open any new facilities in the state. Providers would also be required to take ethics classes and would not be able to advertise their services, which critics say is a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The bill also creates a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking the legal procedure and fails to include protections for the mental and physical health of women who are pregnant. The bill, as written, prevents third-trimester abortions, but allows for an exception only if it is “necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” The bill removes language, however, that provides an exception to “save the life or preserve the health of the pregnant woman.”
The Senate version of the bill, which is sponsored by state Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, currently does not have the scientifically and constitutionally questionable “fetal pain” language that the House version contains.