The Florida Legislature passed six abortion-restricting bills on Wednesday after facing 18 bills, many of which are the most extreme anti-abortion legislation in the nation.
One bill passed will require women to both undergo and pay for an ultrasound before having an abortion. They may decline to view the image, but they are still required to hear a description of the ultrasound and pay for the procedure. Victims of sexual abuse can opt out of the requirement but must provide documentation such as a police report, medical record, or restraining order.
Opponents say that the bill will further traumatize women who have been sexually assaulted but have not reported the incident to the police. Rep. Scott Randolph (D-Orlando) voiced this opinion, saying “Now we’re going to mandate that when that woman comes in, unless she’s gone to the police and filed a police report, she’s going to have to undergo a procedure that’s invasive and possibly traumatic for her.”
The House spent much of Wednesday debating over other measures relating to abortion rights. One, HB 97, would prohibit insurance companies and health plans that use public funds from paying for abortion under the new health care reforms. Another, HB 1397, requires abortion clinics to be owned by a physician, which would cause the majority of clinics that offer abortion to close; of 68 clinics in Florida, only one is owned by a doctor. In HB 1247, minors are prohibited from requesting permission from a judge to obtain an abortion without parental consent. The House also passed a measure that expands the ban on third-trimester abortions to include viability of the fetus.
“Every bill attacks women differently,” said Stephanie Kunkel, executive director of Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. “Ultimately, they will severely restrict women’s access to reproductive health care.”
The Senate began action on two of the six abortion-related measures passed by the House and is scheduled to vote on them today.