A bill that would prohibit now-legal abortions prior to the third trimester is headed to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature.
The Senate, on a party-line vote of 24-15, passed the bill Friday morning. It would redefine viability and also would eliminate late-term abortions currently allowed for psychological reasons.
“This bill is not taking away a woman’s choice,” Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland. “What this bill is saying is that choice has to be made before that baby is far enough in term to be able to live independently outside the womb.”
Lawmakers in the House passed the measure (HB 1047), sponsored by Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, 70-45, on April 11.
Scott on Friday did not commit to signing the bill in a comment issued by email from his office.
"Gov. Scott is pro-life," John Tupps, a spokesman for the governor's office, wrote. "He looks forward to reviewing this legislation now that it has passed both the House and the Senate."
The bill’s Senate sponsor Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said because of advanced technology viability can now sometimes be determined as early as 20 weeks.
“Why not give that child a chance?’ Flores asked. “There does come a point where we say, ‘now we are two,’ and that is the point after viability.”
Current state law does not allow abortions in most instances after the 24th week of pregnancy, which is the start of the third trimester, or if a fetus is deemed “viable.” Viable is now defined to mean when a fetus has a reasonable chance of surviving outside of the womb.
That definition would be altered to mean when a fetus could be capable of surviving outside of the womb “through standard medical measures.”
Amid suppressed laughter, Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Coconut Grove, attempted to amend the bill so that it would also be illegal to have or perform a vasectomy.
“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, said in support of the amendment, which failed. “What the Senator is attempting to do is to levelize the playing field.”
Under the proposed legislation, a woman could not seek a late-term abortion unless two doctors certified in writing that it was necessary to save her life or to avoid irreversible physical impairment.
“This is a choice that must be made between a woman, her clergy and her doctor,” Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, said in opposition. “We need to keep this personal and private. Keep the government out of those decisions.”