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.
12/11/2013 Human Rights Day Celebrated Around The World - Yesterday marked International Human Rights Day, a day to celebrate human rights advances and to assess the challenges that lie ahead in protecting them.
"The fundamentals for protecting and promoting human rights are largely in place: these include a strong and growing body of international human rights law and standards, as well as institutions to interpret the laws, monitor compliance and apply them to new and emerging human rights issues," said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement. . . .
12/11/2013 UConn Under Federal Investigation For Mishandling Sexual Assault Cases - The US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) informed the University of Connecticut on Monday that it will investigate the school for allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases and violating Title IX, the federal law that requires all recipients of federal financial assistance for education programs and activities to prohibit sex discrimination and sexual harassment [PDF].
The investigation was sparked after seven women filed a formal complaint in October alleging that UConn had failed to protect them from sexual assault and exposed them to a sexually hostile environment.One woman says her attacker was expelled from campus but later readmitted without her knowledge. . . .
12/11/2013 Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark Wins Congressional Seat - Democrat Katherine Clark will become the fifth woman to represent Massachusetts in the US House Tuesday, after easily defeating three opponents in a special election.
"Six years ago, there wasn't a single woman representing Massachusetts in Congress," said Niki Tsongas, the only other woman representing Massachusetts in the House. . . .