Six abortion-restricting bills were discussed on the Florida House floor today. Each bill is on its way for a final vote in the House tomorrow.
Out of the 18 bills that have been proposed in the state legislature this year, six have made it as far as a house floor vote.
Here is a rundown of all the bills:
“Choose Life License Plates” bill (H.B. 501):
This bill would provide that annual fees collected by Choose Life, Inc.’s license plates be distributed directly to Choose Life Inc. The legislation also provides that a portion of the funds be redistributed to “not-for-profit agencies that assist certain pregnant women.”It also allows Choose Life to use a portion of their funds “to administer and promote Choose Life license plate program.”
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding how Choose Life might use the money it would collect. Most recently, an amendment offered by Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, would restrict the money spent to be exclusively spent in Florida.
“Health Insurance” bill (C.S./H.B. 97):
This is a piece of legislation that would take advantage of the opt-out provision in the federal health care reform bill that allows states to ban public funding for abortions in health care exchanges set up by the federal law.
Many states have taken advantage of this provision already. These measures further restrict access to abortion services that are covered by publicly subsidized insurance providers.
State constitutional amendment banning public funding for abortions (C.S./HJR 1179):
This is a proposed amendment to Florida’s Constitution that would have voters in 2012 decide whether the state should prohibit “public funding of abortions.”
The necessity of this legislation has been debated and the bill has even been deemed a Republican “get out the vote” maneuver.
Today Rep. Ron Saunders, D-Tavernier, said the amendment conflicts with Article 1 Section 23 of Florida’s Constitution, which establishes a right to privacy, during floor action in the house.
Mandatory-ultrasound bill (C.S./H.B. 1127):
This requires women to view an ultrasound before receiving an abortion and it also “requires that ultrasound be reviewed with patient before a woman gives informed consent for an abortion procedure.”
Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg raised concerns about what exactly women would be forced to hear when receiving the mandatory ultrasound.
The bill allows women to opt-out of looking at an ultrasound if they can “certify in writing that she declined to review ultrasound and did so of her own free will and without undue influence.”
“Parental Notice of Abortion” bill (H.B. 1247):
This revises parts of Florida’s parental notice of abortion legislation. According to The Miami Herald, the bill gives “judges up to three business days to decide whether to allow an underage girl to have an abortion without telling her parents.” The waiting period was previously 48 hours.
The bill also restricts which courts a minor has access to when seeking a judicial bypass of the parental notification to only courts in her home district.
“Abortions” bill (C.S./H.B. 1397):
This bill would require any doctor that performs an abortion to receive “ethics continuing education.” It also requires that abortion clinics be owned and operated by physicians.
The legislation would greatly limit third-trimester abortions and places many mandates, restrictions, and penalties on any clinic performing abortions.