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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

House spends final day on abortion with eye toward Crist



Rep. Matt Hudson, R- Naples reacts to House passage of his sponsored Health Bill that requires most women to have an ultra sound before getting an abortion. Left is Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R- Merritt Island, front, Rep. Carl Domino, R- Jupiter, and right, Rep. J.C. Planas, R- Miami.

 A more than three-hour House debate about an ultrasound bill dissolved into a heated discussion about abortion, as tempers flared and lawmakers warned visitors and young staff to leave the chamber.

It's a remarkable scene on the final day of the legislative session that leaves palatable divisions among Republican and Democratic lawmakers ahead of an election year and ends House Speaker Larry Cretul's tenure on a sour note.

The 72-46 mostly party line vote to add the abortion language to a broad health care bill was expected since the debate first began at 8:28 a.m. but it didn't stop the political theater as Republicans used procedural moves to block all amendments and put time limits on debate. The entire bill passed an hour later by a 76-44 vote.

"What are we as a society going to say years from now about the killing of more than 50 million babies since Roe v. Wade. How can you find the Holocaust so revolting and be opposed to this bill," said Rep. Alan Hays, a Umatilla Republican, whose remarks drew rebuke from the speaker.

Democrat Adam Fetterman called the legislation "paternalistic government stepping in and dictating (a woman's) care."

"There's not bacon to bring back home (through the budget), but you sure can bring the red meat," Fetterman added.

The real decision comes to Gov. Charlie Crist,  who has vacillated on the issue in the past but now looks at it through the lens of his nonpartisan bid for the U.S. Senate.

Center- Rep. Scott Randolph, D- Orlando, is consoled by Rep. Richard Steinberg, D- Miami Beach, after an emotional personal account during debate of a bill that will require pregnant women to undergo an ultra sound procedure before an abortion can be performed. On the right is Rep. Janet Cruz, D- Tampa, and back Rep. Adam Fetterman, D- Port St. Lucie.  [Times Photos Scott Keeler]

 "I want to have that independent governor to think about what the people want ... and veto this bill," pleaded Rep. Richard Steinberg, D-Miami Beach.

But a former Crist supporter, Rep. Chris Dorworth, a Lake Mary Republican, countered: "If he vetoes this bill, he's saying the millions of babies who will be terminated from this are not people. I know he's a man of character and he won't do that."

Defying party lines on the ultrasound language, six Republicans voted against the abortion language (Homan, Planas, Schultz, Anderson, Culp and Domino) and three Democrats voted for it (Bembry, Boyd and Bush).

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:32am]


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