Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill last Friday that requires doctors to perform an ultrasound before every abortion and a bill that adds tight restrictions on young women seeking a judicial bypass to the parental-notification-before-abortion law.
The Florida Legislature sent five bills limiting abortion rights to Scott’s desk this year. These recent bills were among the last to receive Scott’s signature. Both bills received bipartisan opposition when making their way through the state Legislature.
H.B. 1127, the mandatory ultrasound bill, requires a doctor to perform an ultrasound on a woman before an abortion, whether or not ultrasound is medically necessary. Before the bill’s final vote, it also required that women be forced to listen to a description of the ultrasound. However, an opt-out provision was added towards the end of the committee process. Women now have the option of signing a form that exempts them from seeing or hearing the ultrasound.
H.B. 1247, the Parental Notification of Abortion bill, tightens restrictions for young women seeking a judicial bypass of a law requiring parental notification of abortion for minors. The bill is mired in controversy and received fervent bipartisan opposition as it made its way through the Legislature.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida has scrutinized both these bills for a possible legal challenge, but the organization has singled out the judicial bypass bill and said it “endangers [the] health of young women.”
The bill grants young women seeking bypass access to only the circuit court in which they reside, which many argue could be a major violation of privacy — especially for those living in small towns. (Before Friday, this strict provision was the only law in North Dakota.)
The bill also adds delays to the ruling process for a bypass. The ACLU of Florida has said the new rules could “extend the process to up to three weeks – complicating both the legal process and any subsequent medical procedure.” The bill also adds a new language requiring judges to lecture women seeking a bypass. Judges will also now be required to ask young women asking for bypass questions that determine whether she “has the ability to assess both the immediate and long-range consequences of [her] choices.”
The judicial bypass bill also has a questionable genesis. This legislation was once championed by a legislator who is now a current circuit court judge in Florida — one of the very people that either grant or deny a judicial bypass to young women. This judge also happens to be married to the sponsor of the House bill — state. Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland — that was just signed into law. Stargel has said that she sponsored the legislation in an effort to lighten the “burdens on the courts.”
As this controversial legislation was signed into law, Florida’s junior U.S. senator, Marco Rubio, introduced legislation that would require other states to uphold Florida’s strict parental-notice-of-abortion laws.