Florida bill banning abortion of 'viable' fetuses ready for floor vote

April 4, 2014 

TALLAHASSEE -- A controversial proposal to redefine Florida's definition of illegal late-term abortions is ready for a vote on the House floor, as is a separate measure making it a crime to cause injury or death of an unborn child.

House Bill 1047 bans abortions if a doctor has determined a fetus is viable, replacing the state's existing ban on abortions in the third-trimester. The House Judiciary Committee approved the measure today a mostly party-line vote. Rep. Daphne Campbell of Miami Shores was the only Democrat to vote "yes."

The measure is now ready for a vote on the floor. It's Senate companion, SB 918, just started moving this week and still has two more committee stops. It is on next week's Senate Judiciary Committee's agenda.

The proposal is sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, and Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach. They cite state and federal court rulings questioning the trimester framework of abortion laws and point out that 21 other states already have laws on the books limiting abortions once fetuses are deemed viable.

Another proposal would make it a separate crime if a fetus at any age of development is injured or killed during an attack on a pregnant woman. The House approved similar legislation last year, but it stilled in the Senate as pro-choice advocates argued it was intended to create "personhood" rights for fetuses.

The story of Remee Jo Lee, a Tampa Bay woman whose ex-boyfriend tricked her into taking pills that caused her to miscarry, has been used as an example of a case that would be aided if this were already Florida law.

This proposal is found in HB 59 sponsored by Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, and SB 162 sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland. Both bills are ready to be heard by the full House and Senate. Ahern and Stargel have gone to great lengths this year to not characterize their proposals as anti-abortion bills. Although opposition to the legislation has been more muted this year compared to Ahern's failed attempt in 2013, Democrats have still voted "no" in several committees.

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