A House subcommittee Thursday approved a partisan bill to make women wait 24 hours after meeting with a doctor to get an abortion.
The bill passed along party lines in the Health Quality Subcommittee with all Republicans voting for it and all Democrats voting against. State Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, is the panel's vice chairman.
The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Eustis, would require a woman seeking an abortion wait 24 hours for the procedure after a physician has informed her of associated risks, mentioned the age of the fetus and offered the woman the chance to see a live ultrasound and explain the images.
"We want to empower women to make an informed decision rather than a rushed one," Sullivan told the subcommittee. "Some women find out if they are pregnant and in the same visit make the decision to get an abortion."
The bill provides no exceptions for cases of rape, incest, human trafficking, medical emergency or if the woman lives a certain distance from an abortion clinic. An identical bill is going through the Senate.
Kellie Dupree, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, said the waiting period is overly burdensome and potentially traumatic to some women.
"Some women take a chance in coming in such as victims of domestic abuse," Dupree said. "And they don't know if they can get back. So telling them after taking that risk that they need to come back again can be traumatic to certain people."
Dupree said Planned Parenthood locations already offer counseling to women seeking abortions, some of which is state-mandated, and the 24-hour waiting period would not help better inform decision-making.
"The women who come in usually have already made an informed decision," Dupree said. "They don't need another 24 hours."
Another major issue, she said, was financial burden to women who couldn't afford to take two days off from work and make potentially long trips.
"There's one abortion clinic in the entire Panhandle," Dupree said. "Some women would have to travel 400 miles round trip for an abortion, so with this they'd have to make that trip twice."
Jim Styer, president of Sarasota-Manatee Right to Life, said most people consult with their physicians over long periods of time for other operations, and abortion should be treated the same way.
"Anything that gives women time to thoroughly consider her options is good," Styer said. "We should take advantage of the law to protect women."
Twenty-nine states employ legal delays on abortion procedures, which range from 24 hours to 72 hours.
Kate Irby, Herald reporter, can be called at at 745-7055. Follow her on Twitter @kateirby.