Florida House Approves Abortion-Ultrasound Bill to Help Inform Pregnant Women
by Steven Ertelt
April 2, 2008
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — The Florida House has approved a bill that would allow women a chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn baby before having an abortion. Lawmakers sponsoring and pro-life groups backing the bill hope the measure will help further reduce the number of abortions in the state.
The bill requires abortion practitioners to do the ultrasound and give women an option to see it. Women are not obligated to view the ultrasound but get a chance to sign a statement saying they were offered a chance to do so.
The House passed the bill on a 70-45 vote with mostly Republicans backing the bill and mostly Democrats voting against it.
The measure also contains a section dealing with teens considering abortions and it requires them to get a guardian ad litem when asking a judge for a judicial waiver to get around the state parental notification law.
The bill, HB 257, now heads to the Florida Senate, where a companion measure there still hasn’t received a committee hearing.
During the debate, Rep. Marti Coley, a Republican, said she supported the bill both to reduce the number of abortions and to give women the full scope of information before they have an abortion.
"I can’t imagine any man having a procedure without prior tests and knowing that he’s got everything in order," she said, according to an AP report. "As a woman, as a mother, I ask you to support this bill … to ensure that all women are offered safe health care."
During the committee debate on the bill, Florida Right to Life board member Rebecca Porter appeared before the panel to talk about her own abortion and how she regretted it.
She came with hundreds of certified statements from mothers who had abortions and wish they had been given information from the abortion centers such as an ultrasound of their baby. They said it likely would have prompted them to seek alternatives.
Adam Goldman, the vice president for legislative affairs of Florida Right to Life, told LifeNews.com that his group strongly supports the measure.
Goldman told LifeNews.com, "The bill requires an ultrasound examination to be performed at all stages of the pregnancy before an abortion is performed, unless the mother declines the right to view the images in writing."
He said he believes the legislative leaders in the Senate approve of the bill and will get it to Governor Charlie Crist for his signature.
Goldman is asking pro-life advocates in Florida to contact Senator Jeff Atwater, who chairs the Health Regulation Committee, to ask him to allow the Senate version (SB 2400 by Senator Daniel Webster) a hearing as soon as possible.
Florida law already requires ultrasounds for abortions done in the second or third trimester of pregnancy and the measure would require them for all abortions and give women a chance to view them.
This is the second time for the bill as the Florida House approved it last year but the Senate version got watered down and was eventually pulled.
Twelve states have put similar measures on the books and five other states are considering similar bills.
There are about 95,000 abortions annually in Florida according to the latest figures from the state health department from 2006.
ACTION: Contact your members of the Florida legislature and urge strong support for the Senate and House versions of the ultrasound bill.