Guest Contributor: Martha Jackovics
Despite all the legislation from last year’s session of the Florida Legislature aimed at blocking abortions in the state, no abortion bills were passed in the 2012 session, but not for lack of trying. Ten anti-abortion bills were introduced this year, compared to 18 bills introduced last year.
Considering the push against women’s health issues and abortion throughout the country in states controlled by Republicans, this was a win for women’s health in Florida.
Consider last year’s session:
ABORTION — CHOOSE LIFE (Passed): Proceeds from Choose Life license plates will go to Choose Life Inc. for assisting pregnant women, instead of counties. (SB 196/HB 501)
ABORTION — HEALTH CARE EXCHANGES (Passed): Health care plans created through the federal health care law cannot offer coverage for abortions. (SB 1414/HB 97)
ABORTION — PARENTAL NOTIFICATION (Passed): Requires minors seeking a judicial waiver for parental notification of an abortion to get the waiver in district court rather than a wider-reaching appeals court. (SB 1770/HB 1247)
ABORTION — THIRD-TRIMESTER BAN (Failed): Expands ban on third-trimester abortions to include viability of the fetus. Doctors who perform abortions would be required to receive ethics training. (SB 1748/HB 1397)
ABORTION — ULTRASOUND (Passed): Women preparing to undergo an abortion must be offered the opportunity to have the results and images of an ultrasound explained to them. Woman can decline to see the image. (SB 1744/HB 1127)
During the 2012 session, at least ten anti-abortion bills were introduced. Among them, one introduced by Republican Rep. Charles Van Zant which would have made it a felony to perform an abortion unless strict criteria were met, and with no exceptions for rape or incest. Another would have outlawed race and sex based abortions. The “fetal pain” bill was introduced, which would have outlawed abortions after 20 weeks. There was also a bill that women’s health advocates called an “omnibus anti-choice bill” because it contained several measures that would make it harder for women to obtain a legal abortions and harder for providers to provide the legal service.
The race and sex based abortion bill was introduced despite the lack of evidence that such a thing occurs, and it was much the same with the fetal pain bill. The fetal pain bill would have made no exceptions in the case of rape or incest, even though research on whether a fetus can feel pain have been deemed neither scientifically nor constitutionally sound.
As the session adjourned, Planned Parenthood released the following statement:
Tonight the Florida Legislature formally adjourned the 2012 Legislative Session without passing any legislation that would limit women’s access to essential health care services.
“We are encouraged that legislators put women’s health before politics by rejecting efforts to target health centers that provide the reproductive health care and family planning services that women need,” said Judith Selzer, Vice President for Public Policy at the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. “Given that Floridians continue to be plagued by the lagging economy and a growing lack of access to health care, legislators must continue to reject attempts to make it even harder for women to access health care services.”
This is not to say they won’t be back at it next session. Outside of the legislature, there’s also another attempt at the push for a “Personhood” amendment looming for 2014.
But at least for now, on the close of this year’s legislative session, this is a win for women’s health in Florida.