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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Senate poised to vote on abortion restrictions



The Florida Senate is ready to vote on new abortion restrictions after Republicans fended off repeated attempts by Democrats to change the legislation on Tuesday.

The bill (HB 1411) would:

* Prevent state contracts for non-abortion services like STD and cancer screenings from going to clinics that perform elective abortions.
* Require doctors at abortion clinics to have transfer agreements or admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
* Make clear the definition of “trimester” in state law so that it validates state regulators’ argument in a series of complaints filed last year against Planned Parenthood.

A Texas law that included some similar provisions is currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

It’s not yet clear how close the vote could be in a chamber where Republicans have in the past voted with Democrats against anti-abortion language.

But if it does pass, it would have to go back to the House — which okayed it on a 74-44 vote last week — because senators changed the bill. They removed language taken from a bill that would have banned all abortions in Florida.

Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, said she was concerned it could make a court challenge easier.

“Those clauses gave me concern that it would make it as though our intent was to close down all abortion clinics in the state,” she said. “That was not the intent of this bill.”

The state constitution includes strict privacy protections that courts have interpreted to ban regulations intended to restrict access to abortions. The House language makes it clear that the bill’s purpose is “to protect all human life by regulating the termination of pregnancies.”

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 8, 2016 4:39pm]


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