Abortion ultrasound bill fails on a tie vote
The vote was a stunning rebuke for the bill's sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden, who's in the final week of an impressive 28-year legislative career. The decision also spares Gov. Charlie Crist a politically tough decision of whether to sign or veto the bill (SB 2400). The self-described "live and let live" governor has not said what he would have done, at a time when he is mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick.
The floor debate on both sides was among the most emotional and eloquent of the session, as Webster spoke of a woman overseas who had pregancy complications but refused to abort a fetus -- who became Heisman-trophy winning quarterback Tim Tebow at the University of Florida.
A supporter, Sen. Ronda Storms (left), R-Brandon, wondered why opponents didn't want pregnant women to "see that little baby sucking his thumb," and Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, said the ultrasound is simply one more piece of information. "God forbid a woman may change her mind," he said.
Seven Republicans voted no: Mike Bennett, Lisa Carlton, Paula Dockery, Dennis Jones, Jim King, Evelyn Lynn and Burt Saunders. Democrat Gary Siplin voted yes.
"Unless we ovulate," King said, "we have no place making decisions affecting women's reproductive rights." He said the bill, with its ultrasound provision, tramples on the Republican Party principle of "less government, more freedom."
Several opponents said the bill interferes with the doctor-patient relationship. They also cited the Legislature's decision to eliminate adoption subsidies in a tight budget year, which will make it harder for unwanted foster children to be placed with families. "From the looks of our budget, we can't seem to afford the children we already have," said Sen. Mandy Dawson, D-Fort Lauderdale.