FL Senate Republicans Push Anti-Abortion Legislation, House Democrats Push Back
The Republican-majority Florida Senate pushed three separate anti-abortion measures through Wednesday. Two of the measures are amendments to a larger health care bill (HB 1143). One of these amendments, passed on a 24 to 11 vote mostly along party lines, forbids state or federal funds for the use of abortions, except in cases of rape or incest or endangerment to the mother's health, reported the Miami Herald. The second amendment passed on a 22 to 17 vote and would require women to pay for and, in most cases, hear details about ultrasound exams, reported the Associated Press. The cost of an ultrasound exam can vary between $200 and $1,000, reported the Orlando Sentinel.
According to the Orlando Sentinal, State Senator Nan Rich (D) said, "It's actually, to me, the ultimate insult to women. It's saying women can't make up their own minds, can't use their own judgment, as to what they want to do with their bodies. The Legislature is making a medical decision for women."
The House Democrats have responded to this 11th-hour amendment by refusing to continue operations as long as the Republicans keep pushing the issues of abortion and ultrasounds, said the Associated Press. For the time being, House Speaker Larry Cretul (R) called a recess, and House Democrats, intend to continue the use of this tactic until the session ends Friday. Democrats hold 44 seats in the state House and Republicans hold 76.
State Representative Kelly Skidmore (D), told the Sun-Sentinel, "We have very little leverage in this process. This is our leverage. We're willing to let our bills die to prove our point."
The third measure is a bill that would treat a fetus as a person for the purposes of homicide. The bill would add "unborn child" to the definition of a "person" for the purpose of homicide under state law. A fetus is considered viable after 24 weeks. However, according to the Miami Herald, Democrats argue this would challenge the precedent set by Roe v. Wade, and would be a set-back for reproductive rights.