Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Want an abortion? Look at your baby!

TALLAHASSEE — A sharply divided Florida House voted Wednesday to require women to submit to an ultrasound before obtaining a first trimester abortion.

The measure, which could amount to the most significant abortion legislation in years, now heads to the Florida Senate where its powerful sponsor, Sen. Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden, said he's confident it will pass.

Supporters, including House sponsor Trey Traviesa, R-Tampa, say their goal was to strengthen Florida's informed consent abortion law, which requires women to be fully informed of the consequences of having an abortion.

"Informed consent is not a partisan issue," Traviesa said at the end of three hours of emotional debate and a 70-45 vote. "Why should any of us think women should be denied information vital to their decision and vital to their care?"

Traviesa said 12 other states already have ultrasound requirements.

But opponents called the bill an erosion of a woman's right to choose and a case of election-year theatrics to divert attention from the pressing cuts in basic services due to a revenue shortfall.

"Why are we again debating this bill at a time when we have a budget crisis and property taxes are out of control?" asked Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, who said Republicans were more concerned about "appealing to a base" than helping expectant mothers.

Five Republicans, including four from the Tampa Bay area, crossed their party's leadership to vote against the bill; one Democrat voted for it.

Gov. Charlie Crist's office had no immediate comment on whether he would sign or veto the measure.

The bill (HB 257) allows a pregnant woman to sign a waiver declining to see the ultrasound image and has exceptions for cases of rape, incest, domestic violence or human trafficking, if supported by official records.

Ultrasounds, or sonograms, are already required before second- and third-trimester abortions.

The bill would also bolster the state law that requires parents to be notified when a minor daughter seeks an abortion. Under the bill, minors seeking to bypass that parental notification by petitioning the court also would have to be represented by a guardian ad litem — literally "a guardian for the suit" — in addition to a lawyer.

Another provision of the bill that would have required a 24-hour waiting period was removed amid resistance from moderates, especially in the Senate.

"Planned Parenthood is extremely concerned and opposed to this dangerous piece of legislation," said Adrienne Kimmell, a lobbyist for the group. "It ties the hands of doctors from being allowed to make the best decisions for their patients."

Kimmell called the requirement for guardians ad litem for minors seeking abortions a "disturbing concept" because too few legal advocates are available to represent abused and neglected children in Florida.

An effort by Democrat Ron Saunders of Key West to weaken the bill went down to defeat on a 72-43 vote. The amendment said women have a constitutional right to an abortion before a fetus becomes viable and may do so "without undue interference from the state."

The Senate version (SB 2400) will be heard in committee next week, and Webster said he was confident of its passage. "We're looking at using the latest technology," Webster said in reference to ultrasound procedures.

Opponents raised numerous arguments, from who would have to pay for the cost of an ultrasound to whether the law would violate provisions of a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. The case upheld key elements of a Pennsylvania parental notification abortion law, but said states cannot impose "undue burdens" on a woman's right to an abortion.

"The question is, does it pose an undue burden? That is the only relevant constitutional question," Traviesa said. At one point, Traviesa quoted from affidavits filed by women who said they would not have undergone abortions if they had more information.

If the bill passes and Crist signs it, even supporters say it's sure to face a constitutional fight. "It's very commonplace for any bill that amends Chapter 390 (the abortion statute) to be challenged," said Mike McCarron of the Florida Catholic Conference.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at bousquet@sptimes.com or (850) 224-7263.

. HOW THEY VOTED

Here is how Tampa Bay area House members voted on a bill (HB 257) requiring pregnant women to undergo an ultrasound and be shown images of a fetus before having an abortion. The bill passed, 70-45.

YES:

Kevin Ambler, R-Lutz; Jim Frishe, R-St. Petersburg; Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton; Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City; Ed Homan, R-Tampa; Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater; John Legg, R-Port Richey; Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland; Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton; Rob Schenck, R-Brooksville; Trey Traviesa, R-Tampa; Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

NO:

Tom Anderson, R-Dunedin; Faye Culp, R-Tampa; Bill Heller, D-St. Petersburg; Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg; Janet Long, D-Seminole; Peter Nehr, R-Tarpon Springs; Ron Schultz, R-Homosassa; Mike Scionti, D-Tampa.

NOT VOTING:

Betty Reed, D-Tampa.

>>fast facts

Here is how Tampa Bay area House members voted on a bill (HB 257) requiring pregnant women to undergo an ultrasound and be shown images of a fetus before having an abortion. The bill passed, 70-45.

YES:

Kevin Ambler, R-Lutz; Jim Frishe, R-St. Petersburg; Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton; Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City; Ed Homan, R-Tampa; Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater; John Legg, R-Port Richey; Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland; Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton; Rob Schenck, R-Brooksville; Trey Traviesa, R-Tampa; Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

NO:

Tom Anderson, R-Dunedin; Faye Culp, R-Tampa; Bill Heller, D-St. Petersburg; Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg; Janet Long, D-Seminole; Peter Nehr, R-Tarpon Springs; Ron Schultz, R-Homosassa; Mike Scionti, D-Tampa.

NOT VOTING:

Betty Reed, D-Tampa.

Want an abortion? Look at your baby! 04/02/08 [Last modified: Saturday, April 5, 2008 2:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Watch live: President Trump's speech to the U.N. General Assembly

    World

    UNITED NATIONS — U.S. President Donald Trump and French leader Emmanuel Macron are expected to take the spotlight at the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations — but it's the tough global challenges from the nuclear threat in North Korea and the plight of Myanmar's minority Muslims to the …

    President Donald Trump shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, in New York. [Associated Press]
  2. Police seek suspect in attack on elderly woman in St. Petersburg (w/video)

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police are seeking the public's help in finding a woman they say violently attacked a 69-year-old woman earlier this month.

  3. Photo of the Day for September 19, 2017 - Great Egret with green mating coloration

    Human Interest

    Today's Photo of the Day comes from Barbara Motter of Weeki Wachee, FL.

  4. 20 local museums are offering free admission or deals Saturday for Free Museum Day

    Visual Arts

    For all the community's support of the arts in the bay area, it's nice to be rewarded with free admission once in a while. And that's exactly what many area museums are offering on Saturday.

    The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg is among the museums participating in the Smithsonian's Museum Day Live, offering free admission. (LANCE ROTHSTEIN   |  Special to the Times)
  5. Cubs bring some other ex-Rays to Trop such as Wade Davis, Ben Zobrist

    Blogs

    Joe Maddon's first trip back to the Trop is getting most of the headlines tonight, but there are several other familiar faces among the eight former Rays now wearing Cubs uniforms.