Florida House Panel Passes Ultrasound Before Abortion Bill

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 22, 2011   |   4:05PM   |   Tallahassee, FL

A Florida state House committee brought back a bill that would help women considering an abortion by allowing them a chance to see an ultrasound to their baby before the abortion procedure.

Abortion centers routinely perform ultrasounds before abortions and the bill would give women the opportunity to view it, as such centers don’t normally provide it — even though they include the cost in the price of the abortion. Last year, the state legislature passed the measure but Governor Charlie Crist vetoed it

The allowance for an ultrasound is already on the books for women having second or third-trimester abortions but not for those women earlier in pregnancy — when a baby’s heart begins beating at 22 days or when brain waves are measurable at six weeks. HB 1127 would allow such women to see the ultrasound that studies show abortion centers already do.

Rep. Liz Porter, a Republican who sponsored the bill, confirmed most abortion businesses already do an ultrasound to determine the gestational age of the baby before the abortion  and she is disappointed that women she’s talked to don’t get to see the image beforehand.

“It provides women with the knowledge, the truth, the facts, of the procedure that they are facing,” said Porter, according to the Palm Beach Post. “Too much knowledge is never a bad thing.”

The House Health and Human Services Quality Subcommittee passed the bill today on a party-line vote 10-4 with Republicans supporting the pro-life, pro-woman measure and Democrats in opposition. The post said Rep. Jose Diaz, a Republican, supported the bill, saying “Anybody who has a chance to see their child’s heart beating will be deeply impacted.” And Rep. Ron Renuart, a physician, also supported it.

Rep. Scott Randolph opposed the bill as did Stephanie Kunkel, a lobbyist with Planned Parenthood.

The bill now goes to the Health and Human Services Committee while a Senate companion bill (SB 1744) , sponsored by Sen. Ronda Storms, has not received a committee hearing. The House is expected to approve its measure.

Crist had said in his veto message last year that personal views about abortion shouldn’t be used to “expand the role of government and coerce people to obtain medical tests or procedures that are not medically necessary.” But Governor Rick Scott, a pro-life candidate who replaced Crist, supported it. Scott, a businessman, ran as a pro-life candidate and Florida Right to Life gave him an “A” grade and recommended him to voters.

“I am pro-life. I believe strongly in the sanctity of human life. I believe Roe v. Wade should be overturned, and as governor, would appoint judges who apply law and not impose their political agenda on the people, which was what was done in 1973 when Roe was wrongly decided,” he said on his web site.

Scott also said he disagreed with Crist’s veto.

“As governor, I would have signed the pro-life ultrasound legislation that has passed both house of the Florida legislature and was vetoed by Charlie Crist for political reasons,” he said. “This important legislation not only demonstrates that abortion is the taking of an innocent human life but also prevents Florida taxpayers from funding abortion through the federal health care plan that recently passed Congress.”

Crist’s veto drew heavy condemnation from pro-life advocates — including Sen.-elect Marco Rubio afterwards.

In 2006, there were 95,586 abortions performed in Florida, the latest year in which state health department data is available. The ultrasound bill would likely reduce that number.