Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Politics

Rare, unanimous support for abortion bill in Florida House

TALLAHASSEE — Temporarily setting aside debate over the legality of abortion, the Florida House unanimously passed a measure Wednesday that would require doctors to provide emergency care if a failed abortion somehow produces an infant who is born alive.

HB 1129, sponsored by Avon Park Republican Rep. Cary Pigman, passed 119-0. Along with requiring that doctors provide care, the bill requires that cases of live births after an abortion attempt be reported.

Twenty-eight states already have similar laws, which mirror a federal provision signed by President George W. Bush in 2002.

Pigman, a soft-spoken freshman legislator and emergency room physician, told legislators his proposal would guarantee "respect and humanity to infants born alive, regardless of how they entered the world."

After the vote, Gov. Rick Scott said he looks "forward to signing the bill when it reaches my desk." The bill must still pass the full Senate.

A failed abortion could result in a live birth in a late-term abortion, which can only be performed if two physicians agree the mother's life is at risk, or if the mother was further into her pregnancy than thought.

Abortion politics dominated the House much of Wednesday. The debate, while always contentious, has been heightened this year by the gruesome Pennsylvania criminal case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. Gosnell has been charged with causing the deaths of a patient and seven babies who prosecutors say were born alive.

A bill considered by lawmakers Wednesday would make the death of an "unborn child" a separate crime from an offense committed against the mother (SB 876). The bill would not target abortions specifically, but crimes against a pregnant mother.

Bill sponsor Rep. Larry Ahern, R-St. Petersburg, said 36 other states have such measures. President Bush signed federal legislation in 2004 making it a separate crime to harm a fetus during the commission of a violent crime against a pregnant woman.

A person would not have to know a woman is pregnant to be charged with a crime. Democrat lawmakers pressed Ahern with hypothetical cases where a fetus might be injured — in a crowd, in a soccer game, in a fender-bender. Ahern said it would be up to law enforcement officers to determine if charges should be filed.

A final vote was not taken on the bill, but one could come this week.

Another proposal considered but not voted on Wednesday would require that doctors sign an affidavit stating an abortion is not motivated by sex or race (HB 845).

Sponsor Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, said the "sex-selection industry" is prolific. The bill states that anyone performing, inducing, or actively participating in an abortion because of the child's sex or race would be charged with a third-degree felony.

"If a friend is driving a woman to the doctor's office, is the friend considered an active participant?" asked Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando. The answer would be "yes," Van Zant said, if the procedure is to be done due to sex or race.

It's unclear if the bills sponsored by Ahern and Van Zant will be heard in the Senate.

In November, a proposed constitutional amendment banning public funding of abortions in Florida was rejected 55-45 percent.

Comments
St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

The 2017 St. Petersburg-Habana Yacht Race was celebrated as more than a competitive regatta to Cuba’s capital city of Havana.The relaunch of the maritime competition canceled since 1959 was hailed as a reflection of the detente started under former P...
Published: 02/20/18
Spring Hill candidate for Congress: ‘I care about this community — I will scream that from the rafters’

Spring Hill candidate for Congress: ‘I care about this community — I will scream that from the rafters’

SPRING HILL — A Hernando County woman new to the political arena has filed as the fifth Democrat to run against longtime Florida lawmaker U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster for his spot in the U.S. House of Representatives.Dana Cottrell, 49, has lived in Sprin...
Published: 02/20/18
Special counsel files new charge in Russia probe

Special counsel files new charge in Russia probe

WASHINGTON — The special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election charged an attorney Tuesday with lying to federal investigators about his interactions with a former Trump campaign official. A charging document filed in federa...
Published: 02/20/18
Man featured on ‘Trump Dating’ site has child sex conviction

Man featured on ‘Trump Dating’ site has child sex conviction

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A North Carolina man with a felony conviction for indecent liberties with a child was one-half of the poster couple for a new "Trump Dating" website.News outlets reported Monday that visitors to the dating site geared toward suppor...
Published: 02/20/18
Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Associated PressST. PETERSBURG, Russia — While Russian officials scoff at a U.S. indictment charging 13 Russians with meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, several people who worked at the same St. Petersburg, Russia, "troll factory" say t...
Published: 02/19/18
Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Associated PressWEST PALM BEACH — From the confines of his Mar-a-Lago golf club, President Donald Trump offered support Monday for a limited strengthening of federal background checks on gun purchases while staying largely mum in the past few days ab...
Published: 02/19/18
For the weary White House, Florida shooting offered a ‘reprieve’ from scandals

For the weary White House, Florida shooting offered a ‘reprieve’ from scandals

The White House was under siege.Domestic abuse allegations against a senior aide were ignored, pointing to a potential high-level coverup. Two Cabinet secretaries were caught chargin taxpayers for luxury travel. A Playboy centerfold alleged an extram...
Published: 02/19/18
President Trump expresses support for senators’ gun bill

President Trump expresses support for senators’ gun bill

President Donald Trump signaled support for one piece of gun control legislation on Monday, five days after a mass shooting at a Florida high school left 17 people dead and scores injured."The president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal...
Published: 02/19/18
Do Trump’s alleged affairs even matter?

Do Trump’s alleged affairs even matter?

One of the quotes from the 2016 presidential campaign that has stuck with me came from an unidentified Donald Trump supporter who shared his appraisal of the "Access Hollywood" tape on an episode of Showtime’s "The Circus."Having heard Trump boast on...
Published: 02/18/18
Survivors of deadly school shooting lash out at Trump

Survivors of deadly school shooting lash out at Trump

PARKLAND, Fla. — Students who escaped the deadly school shooting in Florida focused their anger Sunday at President Donald Trump, contending that his response to the attack has been needlessly divisive. "You're the president. You're supposed t...
Published: 02/18/18