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article imageFlorida Governor signs late-term abortion bill

By Karen Graham     Jun 14, 2014 in Politics
Tallahassee - Despite the objections of advocates for women's rights in Florida, Republican Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill that not only redefines the state's current abortion ban, but will make it even more difficult for women to get an abortion.
On Friday morning, Gov. Rick Scott of Florida signed HB 1047, a new law that will make it illegal for a woman to have an abortion at any point during her pregnancy if her doctor has determined the fetus could live outside the womb. Essentially, the bill redefines the current state third-trimester abortion ban.
In the broader sense, the Florida law is in stride with similar abortion laws that have been passed by Republicans in other states around the country recently. The existing law in Florida makes it illegal to have an abortion after a gestation period of 24 weeks, unless the woman's life or health is in danger.
The new law, which becomes effective next month, sets the no-abortion cutoff at any time in the stage of fetal development, as long as a doctor determines the fetus is viable. So the cut-off point for a woman having an abortion could easily be before 24-weeks.
The new abortion bill passed the House 70-45 and the Senate 24-15. Spokesman for the governor John Tupps said in an email to the Huffington Post, "Governor Scott is pro-life and was glad to sign this bill that protects the lives of children."
Democrats in both the House and Senate opposed the bill from the very time it was introduced. Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, said she was concerned about doctors being open to criminal prosecution. She also is worried that different doctors will have differing opinions on whether a fetus is considered viable. This could lead to problems.
"It is commonplace for people to get second and third opinions sometimes when they're dealing with something very important," Rehwinkel Vasilinda said. "And we know that physicians do have differences of opinion. It's just ... something that we shouldn't have done."
One group, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops has supported the legislation from the start, and says that with the new technologies and advances seen in medicine today, "some babies are capable of survival outside of the womb in the second trimester."
In a written statement from the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, spokeswoman Ingrid Delgado said, "This good legislation protects our society's most vulnerable, the unborn, and recognizes that an unborn child who is viable and can sustain life outside of the womb has a right to life."
Under the new law, once the fetus is determined to be viable, an abortion can be done only if two physicians certify in writing that the termination is necessary to save the patient’s life or to “avert a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function … other than a psychological condition.”
The Florida law goes far beyond the third-trimester standard used by the U.S. Supreme Court in their 1973 ruling legalizing abortion in the United States.
Critics are up in arms over the new law and are saying Scott and Republican lawmakers have shown a total lack of respect for women's rights. “They don’t think women should be able to control their own health care decisions,” said Barbara DeVane, a Tallahassee lobbyist for the National Organization for Women (NOW). Devane says she doesn't know if NOW is planning to challenge the law in court, but she is sure women in Florida will take up the challenge.
More about lateterm abortion, redefined, Florida abortion law, thirdtrimester, reproductive choice
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