Between a conservative Legislature and a more conservative governor, there’s a concentrated effort this year to tighten Florida’s abortion laws.
From reviving a measure to require a woman to receive an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion to a blanket ban that would pose a legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, at least 18 bills are filed.
“It’s an unprecedented year,” said Stephanie Kunkel, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates.
The number puts Florida among the top five states in the country for abortion bills, Kunkel said. West Virginia is first with more than 30.
“There are some that are just chipping away at a woman’s right to choose and there are some that are wholesale assaults,” said Danielle Prendergast, director of public policy for the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes the bills. “Given the makeup and the tone of this Legislature, I think more will pass than may have passed in previous sessions.”
The push contrasts heavily to last year when the ultrasound bill came under intense, emotional debate and was ultimately vetoed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist, who said, “Personal views should not result in laws that unwisely expand the role of government and coerce people to obtain medical tests or procedures that are not medically necessary.”
The most significant proposal is a bill from Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Palatka, that would challenge the U.S. Supreme Court decision that guaranteed a woman’s right to choose. But without a companion in the Senate, it isn’t likely to progress.
Other bills, however, are moving quickly, and three made it through committee Tuesday, including the measure that requires a woman to get an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion and be asked if she wants to review the results.
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