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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Abortion bill clears first Senate stop



Sen. Dan Webster's bill (2400) to require that women in their first trimester get an ultrasound, and in most cases view it with their doctor, passed the first of two committees by a 4-3 vote -- with Republican Sen. Dennis Jones opposed and Democrat Gary Siplin in favor.

There are no women on the Senate health regulation committee, and Sen. Durell Peaden was absent.

The bill is similar but not identical to the bill that the House passed last week on a partisan vote. It extends the current requirement for ultrasounds in the second and third trimester to the first trimester, and it requires that women view the ultrasound and that her doctor explain the images. (The House bill requires a guardian ad litem be appointed to minors; Webster's does not.)

There is a provision in both proposals that allows a woman to decline to view the images. The doctor also does not have to explain the ultrasound - if the woman provides evidence of sexual assault, domestic violence or severe medical condition.

Those opposing the measure worry about the cost of the ultrasound being a burden to women, especially poor ones. And they say it's unrealistic and unfair to require sexual assault victims - most of whom are afraid to report the crime - to provide a police report or other documentation.

"This is about using the latest technology," Webster said of the ultrasound. "It is the best information you can give a woman about the fetus in her womb."

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 10:49am]


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