Florida Senate Committee Passes Ultrasound Before Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 4, 2011   |   6:57PM   |   Washington, DC

Senate Bill 1744 received the support of a committee in the state Senate today and now has just one more committee to go before heading to the state Senate floor for a debate and vote.

The bill requires abortion centers to do something they don’t normally do:  show women considering an abortion the results of the ultrasound they typically take beforehand to determine the age of the baby at the time of the abortion. All of the Republican members of the Senate Health Regulation committee supported the legislation, except one Republican, Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater. That had the bill winning 7-5.

“I consider myself to be pro-life. The first two abortion bills that came to this committee, I voted for them. I think this bill is more than those bills,” Latvala said, according to Sunshine State News. “I basically believe in the philosophy that government needs to stay out of decisions like this.”

But Sen. Ronda Storms, a Republican who sponsored the bill after pro-abortion former Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed a bill last year, said the measure is designed to give women more information.

“A doctor has an obligation to go over every procedure with a woman,” she said.

Sen. Eleanor Sobel, a Democrat, was one of the members of her party to oppose the bill and she complained about exceptions for rape and incest — even though they are found in the bill.

A Florida state House committee approved a similar bill in March. 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  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.

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.