Seventh in a series of columns on key votes taken by the Florida Legislature since the last election.
Today's entry in our "how the Legislature voted" series is more controversial; some people will think it was a good idea. My own bias is against it.
This past spring, the Legislature voted to require women seeking first-trimester abortions in Florida to have an ultrasound, to view it, or to have their doctor describe the fetus to them unless they signed a form opting out.
Women also could avoid this requirement if they provided evidence they were victims of rape, incest, domestic violence or human trafficking. (This always struck me as odd. It's still okay to have abortions sometimes, then?)
The measure was House Bill 1143. It also declared that no public health plan under Obamacare would cover abortions in Florida. Poor women not only would have to have an ultrasound; they had to pay for it.
As we have seen on so many issues, this was a last-minute amendment to an otherwise innocuous bill about nursing homes. It did not go through the full process of committees, public input or deliberation. It was done on the fly.
Nonetheless, the House voted 76-44 for the final bill. The Senate voted for it 23-16.
Gov. Charlie Crist, who by this time was in full breakup mode with the Republican Legislature, vetoed it.
The debate on both sides was emotional. The roll call shows an unusual degree of division within the majority Republican Party.
Here is how our Tampa Bay area lawmakers voted:
Senators voting yes:
Victor Crist, R-Tampa; Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland (see note below); Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey; Ronda Storms, R-Brandon.
Senators voting no:
Dennis Jones, R-Treasure Island; Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa; Charlie Justice, D-St. Petersburg.
House members voting yes:
Kevin Ambler, R-Tampa; Rachel Burgin, R-Tampa; Jim Frishe, R-Belleair Bluffs; Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton; Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City; Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater; John Legg, R-New Port Richey; Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland; Peter Nehr, R-Tarpon Springs; Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton; Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill; Ron Schultz, R-Homosassa; Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.
House members voting no:
Tom Anderson, R-Dunedin; Janet Cruz, D-Tampa; Faye Culp, R-Tampa; Bill Heller, D-St. Petersburg; Ed Homan, R-Tampa; Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg; Janet Long, D-Seminole; Betty Reed, D-Tampa; Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg.
(Note for Paula Dockery: She points out she voted against the amendment that changed the bill to require ultrasounds, but for the final bill because of its other provisions. I'm happy to make the point, but she still voted to make the final product the law of our state.)