Florida's ultrasound-before-abortion bill sponsor says it's not about ideology

The Miami HeraldJune 8, 2010 

The smiles in the delivery room didn't last long.

Moments after birth, the nurse told Andy and Camille Gardiner the news, and whisked their newborn son to another room for more tests.

"It's like going into something where you just have no clue what you're getting into," Andy Gardiner recalled, "even though you think you know what you're getting into as a parent." The worst part, he said, "is the not knowing."

Six years later, as a state senator from Orlando, Gardiner is the sponsor of Florida's controversial bill to require doctors to show and describe a sonogram to women before a first-trimester abortion, unless they opt out.

His rationale for the bill strikes a familiar chord: He wants women to make "an informed decision."

"All this does," Gardiner told colleagues as he introduced the bill in the waning days of the legislative session, "is say if you want to see the ultrasound, the heartbeat, the opportunity that will come with the birth of that child, you can."

The "information," supporters openly acknowledge, is intended to induce women to change their minds and reduce the number of abortions performed.

Antiabortion advocates call the bill -- which went to Gov. Charlie Crist on Monday -- "the most significant pro-life measure that's ever happened in Florida's history." Crist has 15 days to decide whether to sign the bill, allow it to become law without his signature or veto it.

For Gardiner, opposition to abortion isn't an exercise in ideology, where the Republicans usually vote one way and the Democrats usually vote the other.

Beneath Gardiner's ideological skin lies a more-powerful motivation for the bill: his son and his experience in the delivery room.

To read the complete article, visit www.miamiherald.com.

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