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Abortion bill deserves a veto

You could call it a sneaky, last-minute ploy to circumvent a woman's right to a safe and legal abortion, if it weren't so laughably transparent.

Not that there's much to laugh at in House Bill 1143, which in part would require a woman to pay for and undergo an ultrasound before she could have an abortion. Unless, of course, newly indy Gov. Charlie Crist nixes it with his veto pen and rights some wrongheaded legislation.

The abortion language in the controversial bill, pushed through in the last days of the legislative session, is a blatant attempt to shame a woman who is making a difficult and intensely personal decision into backing down.

Should the measure become law, any woman seeking an abortion must first get an ultrasound, which she also must pay for. Then she is shown the pictures, and a doctor explains them to her before she can have the procedure, unless she completes a form saying she doesn't want to see them.

Nothing chilling about all that, right?

She must have this ultrasound unless she can present "a copy of a restraining order, police report, medical record or other court order or documentation" that is evidence she is pregnant because she is a victim of incest, rape, domestic violence or human trafficking.

Nothing chilling there, either.

If the barbaric, stoning-in-the-public-square tone of this isn't enough, consider the intrusion on the private relationship between a patient and her doctor. And consider who it will most effect: those who can't afford the additional $200 an ultrasound can cost.

Two female senators, both Republicans, voted for the bill: Ronda Storms (no surprise) and Paula Dockery, the Lakeland Republican running for governor. Dockery initially voted against the addition of the abortion language in the larger health care bill but later changed her vote to yes.

But here was Dockery this week, sounding like she was lamenting that vote.

"We say we don't think the government should tell us we have to buy health insurance, we don't think the government should mandate any particular medical services," she said Tuesday on WUSF radio's Florida Matters. "Yet we as Republicans pushed forward a bill that was mandating a service, meaning an ultrasound.

"I think that bill is ripe for a governor's veto."

So now it's up to Crist, who already showed some stick and won some hearts by vetoing the teacher tenure bill.

He may win more if he pushes on with an anti-oil-drilling stance, particularly with opponent Marco Rubio maintaining that drilling should still be part of the energy plan even as a catastrophe oozes out there in the gulf.

So will Crist, who for the record is pro-life, risk losing a conservative segment of the electorate that sees no shades of gray on this, and veto the abortion bill?

Oh, that's right. He already lost them.

He has some room for duck-and-cover: A new Oklahoma law requiring a woman to undergo an ultrasound and hear a detailed description was put on hold this week by a judge, pending a legal challenge on grounds including privacy and equal protection.

Or our governor can reject the bill for a more straightforward reason: because it's bad law.

Abortion bill deserves a veto 05/04/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 4, 2010 8:14pm]
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