Florida Senate Continues Delaying Close Vote on Abortion-Ultrasound Bill
by Steven Ertelt
April 30, 2008
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — The Florida Senate continues to delay a vote on a bill that would allow women to see an ultrasound of their unborn child prior to having an abortion. The bill would help inform women and reduce abortions but the Senate is very closely divided on the measure and has repeatedly delayed a vote.
Sen. Dan Webster, a Republican, is the sponsor of the bill but he’s put off bringing it up for a vote numerous times because he’s not sure if enough lawmakers will support it.
The vote is complicated by a split in the chamber — with some pro-life Democrats joining most Republicans in supporting it and some pro-abortion Republicans joining most Democrats in opposing it.
The Tallahassee Democrat indicates Webster brought the bill up for questions and some debate Tuesday morning and he was pepped with queries from lawmakers who oppose the bill or have doubts about it.
"I’m pro-life," Webster said in response to one question. "I want to do all I can to help people think about it. If a woman viewing an ultrasound chose to keep the baby, I’d be very happy."
The newspaper indicated Webster also said that the bill doesn’t force women to view the ultrasound — but gives them the option.
"This is all part of informed consent," Webster said. "If we’re going to make an informed decision, this is the best information available."
The Senate Health Regulation Committee passed the bill, SB 2400, on a 4-3 vote earlier this month. Then, the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee sent it to the Senate floor after a narrow 3-2 party line vote.
Women considering abortions don’t normally receive the full panoply of information about the development of their unborn child and the measure helps provide them that information.
When given to women at pregnancy centers, an ultrasound helps change the mind of about 80 percent of women who are contemplating an abortion.
The Senate bill is similar to a House measure, HB 257, the lower chamber already approved, but it has significant differences.
The House measure includes 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 House passed its bill on a 70-45 vote with mostly Republicans backing the bill and mostly Democrats voting against it.
During the House 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."
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 was watered down and 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.