State Politics

Florida Gov. Rick Scott poised to sign or veto 24-hour abortion wait period, other bills

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida women would have to see a doctor and wait 24 hours before getting an abortion under a bill Gov. Rick Scott must act on Wednesday.

The legislation, which Scott is expected to sign, is one of the most contentious and emotionally charged from the regular lawmaking session this spring.

Supporters argue that women will benefit from the legal change, which ensures all women seeking an abortion have enough time to fully consider the decision. Among those supporters is Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, who said his wife, Victoria, was once advised to have an abortion.

“I’m glad she had 24 hours to think about it,” he said.

But the proposal has drawn the ire of opponents who say it presents an additional burden for women who live far from a clinic or face other difficulties getting to a clinic multiple times.

“This bill is hostile to women,” Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, said while debating the issue in April. “This is the only medical procedure that we mandate that a person, specifically a woman, has to go back home and decide, ‘Did I make the right decision?’”

Also among the roughly 50 bills Scott must decide on Wednesday is a bill making changes to the Public Service Commission in an attempt to ensure utilities are more consumer-friendly. The measure includes a possible $2 to $3 drop in monthly bills for Duke Energy customers.

The bill has been backed by Pinellas County Republicans Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater and Rep. Kathleen Peters of South Pasadena.

Latvala had hoped the bill would require the PSC to meet around the state, in addition to setting term limits. But development of the legislation got caught up in the unusual end to the regular session.

Contact Michael Auslen at mauslen@tampabay.com. Follow @MichaelAuslen

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