The Republican-dominated House on Thursday approved a bill that would restrict the most common type of second-trimester abortions.
The measure (HB 1429), sponsored by Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, would impose new restrictions on doctors performing dilation-and-evacuation abortions, in which a woman's cervix is dilated and the fetus is removed in pieces. The procedure, described by opponents as "dismemberment abortion," would be prohibited unless the heart of a fetus is stopped first by the injection of a drug, like potassium chloride, or by another procedure.
The bill would allow exceptions when women's lives are in danger and if no other medical procedures would suffice.
Grall described the legislation as a "middle ground" for her since she staunchly opposes abortions.
"This bill acknowledges a woman is having an abortion," Grall said. "Let us remind ourselves of our humanity and make sure we do not tear a child apart in the womb just because they cannot articulate their pain."
Rep. Amy Mercado, D-Orlando, spoke in opposition to the bill, saying the new restrictions would present "substantial obstacles" to a woman's right to an abortion under federal and state law.
The bill passed 72-42 largely along party lines, with House Republicans in support and Democrats in opposition. A similar bill (SB 1890), sponsored by Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Rockledge, has not been heard in the Senate.