Gov. Rick Scott has two weeks to sign House Bills 501, 1127, and 1247 before they automatically become law:
- House Bill 501 loosens up restrictions on where funds collected through the sale of Choose Life, Inc. license plates are spent. Some fear that some of the money could go to crisis pregnancy centers in Florida.
- House Bill 1127 is the mandatory ultrasound bill. The legislation will require all doctors to perform an ultrasound on women before providing an abortion service, whether it is medically necessary or not. The bill provides an opt-out provision for viewing or listening to a description of the ultrasound.
- House Bill 1247 would impose more restrictions on minors seeking a judicial bypass for the mandatory parental-consent-for-abortion law. If the bill is signed, young women will only be able to appeal to courts where they reside (which some argue infringes on privacy rights). The bill also requires that young women be lectured by judges hearing the appeal, and the bill also extends waiting periods for a ruling on the appeal.
Similar legislation was once sought by the husband of the current bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland. Stargel’s husband was a state representative before becoming a circuit court judge — the position he holds now. Judge Stargel is among a handful of people who decide whether or not a young woman may receive a judicial bypass. It is on the record that not only did he, prior to becoming a judge, favor legislation that makes it harder for these women to get a bypass, but that his wife incorporated many of the provisions he sought as a legislator in her own bill. She claims that the bill is an effort to lighten “burdens on the courts.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida has previously said that it has been taking a close look at some of the bills. Maria Kayanan, associate legal director for the ACLU, says that the organization never rules out suing over any bill.
The ACLU, along with other reproductive rights advocates, have expressed concern with both the judicial bypass bill and a constitutional amendment meant to outlaw public funding for abortions in the state.
Many fear the constitutional amendment — if approved by Florida voters next year — will also infringe on citizens’ constitutionally protected privacy rights. Because the state already does not pay for abortions (except for extreme cases such as rape and incest), the ads required by law to educate the public about the ballot measure will cost significantly more money than the state has spent on actual abortions.
Scott has already signed his first anti-abortion bill into law. The bill outlawed public funding for abortions in health care exchanges created by the federal health care reform law.