Abortion Waiting Period Bill Continues Moving In Florida Senate

Apr 16, 2015

A bill that would require a woman to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion has passed another hurdle in the Senate, despite continued opposition.

During Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, close to 40 people came out to support or oppose the controversial abortion measure by Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami).

“SB 724 requires that the information that is currently to be presented by a physician to a pregnant woman in order to obtain informed consent from the pregnant woman before performing an abortion must be presented while in the same room as a woman and at least 24 hours prior to the procedure,” said Flores, during the bill's second committee hearing.

Brooke Hines, who’s against the measure, recalled when she and her soon-to-be husband—both from poor backgrounds—found out she was pregnant at 21 and didn’t have enough to support a child.

“In the form of housing, financial help, health care? I didn’t have health insurance and child care, when you get right down to it because how are you going to stay in college if you don’t have any access to child care,” stated Hines.

After learning they’d have to also take care of their ailing parents, they came to a decision.

“We decided that an abortion was the right thing for us at that time,” added Hines. ”We’ve never once regretted that decision, and we didn’t need an extra 24 hours, an extra trip to the doctor that we couldn’t afford, or anyone else inserting themselves into our lives to make that decision.”

But, Sherri Daume says she wished she’d had the waiting period, before her traumatic abortion experience at age 17 from an unplanned pregnancy. She remembers being taken to a locker room and told to wear a hospital gown.

“Only wearing this hospital gown, I was given information about the procedure, including a picture of an ultrasound of an 8 week fetus, but I was 12 weeks,” she recalled. “I remember I was shaking all over, numb, terrified about what was going to happen, certainly not in a position to consider this new information, just given me. A short time later, a woman came and walked me to another room, and there I got up on a table, now shaking so hard the doctor told me to stop shaking so much.  This was the first time I had me this doctor. I stared at the ceiling as the staff dismembered my child and sucked my child out of my womb.”

Still, Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa) questioned the need for what she called an “added impediment.”

But, bill sponsor Flores countered that there are already 26 states with similar laws on their books. She added there are also several medical procedures, like knee surgeries, that have waiting periods. And, Flores said it applies in other areas, in case people change their minds.

“If someone wants to go and get married, you can’t just go and get married one day to the next,” said Flores. “If someone wants to be divorced, you can’t go and get divorced and say, ‘I’m done with my husband.’ You have to wait 20 days. If you want to have a handgun, you can’t just go up and say, ‘we’re going to have an instant check and here’s a gun.’ You need to wait three days. So, there’s precedents.”

Joyner tried to tack on an amendment that would have waived the mandated waiting period, if the pregnancy is a result of rape, incest, if there’s a risk to the woman’s health, or if a severe fetal anomaly exists.

“By delaying care in a case where a woman’s health is at great risk, we are unnecessarily causing her greater risk,” said Joyner. “This amendment seeks to fix that.”

But, Flores disagreed.

“Too many of those cases certainly that I know on my behalf of people that were told that their child was going to have some sort of anomaly and then didn’t, that I don’t think it would be worth it to do it,” said Flores, during an earlier argument on the fetal anomaly question.

The amendment narrowly failed 5-4 with the panel’s chair, Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (R-Miami), voting alongside the three Democrats.

Other Democrats also say the measure is unconstitutional. And, Flores says she anticipates there’ll be a lawsuit, should the measure become law.

And, the measure passed the Senate Judiciary Committee 6-3 along party lines with Democrats opposed. It has one more stop to go before it heads to the floor. Meanwhile, after passing its last committee early this month, its House companion is already headed to the floor.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.