Anti-abortion bill heads to House Floor

Feb 23, 2012

The first of about 10 anti-abortion bills filed in the Florida Legislature is now heading to the House floor. But, as Sascha Cordner reports, the measure has opponents saying it will further restrict abortions from taking place in Florida, calling it “more government intrusion.”

In its last committee stop, the House Health and Human Services Committee, Republican Representative Rachel Burgin of Riverview introduced a comprehensive anti-abortion bill that essentially places restrictions on abortions being performed in the state.

“It requires continuing education for physicians to complete a three-hour course on ethics each year, provides and changes the informed consent statute which requires full and informed consent 24-hours before an abortion is performed. Also, requires reporting requirement to AHCA and requires submission of data to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.”

There’s also a requirement that only doctors who received training on how to do abortions during their residences can own a new abortion clinic. That didn’t sit well with Emily Caponetti with Planned Parenthood.

“Because the restrictions in HB 277, do not promote patients health, and only target patients that provide abortion care, it is clear that the goal of HB277 is to insert government interference between doctors and their patients.”

Pamela Burch Fort with the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida agrees. She says Burgin’s bill is just a pile of rules and regulations that don’t help women at all.

“Let’s be clear. This bill is about reducing the number of safe and legal abortion clinics and making it more difficult for women to exercise their constitutional right to a safe and legal abortion. This bill is also about discouraging physicians from performing abortions by facing onerous restrictions on them, restrictions that are not placed on any other health care provider.”

But, Maureen Ahern, wife of GOP Representative Larry Ahern of St. Petersburg, disagrees:

In my opinion, this is a very good bill, dealing with regulations and rules, regarding abortions. It does nothing to attack or restrict women’s health care, which I am all for, since I am a woman.”

Burgin’s bill also sparked a heated debate among members of the House Health and Human Services Committee, with all the Democrats opposed, like Representative Mark Pafford:

“As far as this bill, to be clear, it is a barrier, and I will be voting against this bill today.”

Republican Representative Jason Brodeur of Sanford countered that in this case, barriers could be a good thing:

“I think everybody mentioned that this could create barriers. Well good! I think when you make a choice to unilaterally end somebody else’s life by force, we generally call that murder. I’m okay with it. I’m happy to support it, and I hope we see more legislation like this. Thank you.”

Burgin also amended her bill to include a provision by Republican Representative Daniel Davis to ban abortions after 20 weeks, due to studies that show a fetus that old can feel pain. The bill passed in the House Health and Human Services Committee, along a party line vote with Democrats opposed. It now heads to the House floor.