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NEWS

State house bills target abortion

18 and life: a record number of legislative attacks on reproductive rights race through Tallahassee

Photo: Photo from Planned Parenthood, License: N/A, Created: 2011:02:26 13:58:00

Photo from Planned Parenthood

fighting words: Two Orlando protesters send a strong message at a February Planned Parenthood rally against federal cuts to women's health care, but the real battle is closer to home


HB 321/SB 1948 - 
"Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act"

Florida wants to be just like Nebraska, where fetuses beyond 20 weeks of gestation are considered capable of feeling pain, and therefore unlawful to abort. State Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, has teamed up with State Sen. Storms to make Florida hurt, too. Here's the clincher: Written into the proposed law are possible procedures for patients to take the abortion doctors to court for civil damages, procedures that include clearing the courtroom for the sake of anonymity of the "victim" (the prospective mother). Ergo, abortion doctors are criminals. The deeper implication is that Florida women, like Danielle Deaver of Nebraska who recently found out that her fetus was not viable at 22 weeks and still had to carry it to natural birth, will be similarly, mortifyingly stuck.

HB 501/SB 196 - Choose Life License Plates

A disturbing red herring, this one. Since Florida became the first of 26 states to approve specialty Choose Life license plates in 1999 - raising more than $12 million for the truth-challenged realm of crisis pregnancy centers in Florida - the money has been circulated through county offices. This bill, spearheaded by State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, and State Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, would instead push the revenues through a single company, Choose Life Inc., a vague Ocala nonprofit 
that, according to tax records, handled only 
$12,000 in revenues in 2009. Fasano's apparent intent was to remove the 70-30 percent cap from the statute (30 percent was previously marked for adoption-related counseling, advertising and marketing) so that more pregnant women could be assisted - or so there would be fewer limits on how the money could be spent. We'll see if legislators actually listened, or if the money will go to expanding the Choose Life campaign nationwide.

HB 747/SB 1760 - Infants Born Alive

A reactionary - and repeat - effort to ensure that fetuses (or "babies") that survive abortion procedures are properly cared for by health care professionals. State Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, and State Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, are pushing the plan following headlines of botched abortions in Pennsylvania and Hialeah.

SB 1094 - 
Offenses Against Unborn Children

Without a matching House component, this Fasano bill does little more than raise the heat on an already tempestuous issue: fetal personhood. Under the bill, Fasano would like to see the already offensive "viable fetus" terminology utilized in accepted Florida vehicular homicide statutes altered to read to "unborn child." It may have no legislative bearing, but its point is clear: Women matter less than the fetuses they carry.

HB 415 - Abortion

It wouldn't be a legislative session without the cosmic reappearance of grandstanding State Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, and his epic omnibus attempt to make Florida the leader in the unavoidable federal lawsuit to overturn Roe v. Wade. In 54 lengthy pages, Van Zant makes his futile case, steamrolling over statutes with wild-eyed abandon. It's the inevitable Hail Mary of every spring in Tallahassee, the statement of all statements. Thankfully, it hasn't received enough traction to become a logical reality. At least not yet.

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