by Pat Raia
Abortions performed solely because a fetus was diagnosed with a disability would be banned under a pair of bills introduced into the Florida legislature last month.
SB1664 filed by Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez (R-Doral) would forbid physicians from performing or attempting to perform “disability” abortions that they know are being sought solely because the fetus has been diagnosed in prenatal testing with a certain condition including Down's Syndrome, Scoliosis, Dwarfism or a mental or intellectual disability. Terminations performed to save the life of the mother would be allowed under the bill.
Under the proposed legislation, a woman upon whom a disability abortion is performed may not be prosecuted.
A twin bill HR 1221 was filed in the Florida House of Representatives by Rep. Erin Grall ( R-Vero Beach).
Opponents believe the legislation robs families of making their own health decisions and fails to address discrimination connected to some disabilities.
“When parents face unexpected news about a pregnancy the decisions about what to do should remain between them and their doctor; elected officials in Tallahassee have no business in our exam rooms or our living rooms while we make decisions about a pregnancy,” said Stephanie Fraim, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. “Instead of playing a divisive political game with the personal decisions of Florida families, our lawmakers should work to ensure all people of all abilities have access to the real services and education they need and appropriate accommodations when they need them.”
On Thursday, March 11, the House Professions & Public Health Subcommittee voted to approve the measure (HB 1221) along party lines (11-7). One republican voted against it, Rep. Sam Killebrew of Winter Haven.
Rep. Grall told the committee, “For those of you that feel as strongly as you do that abortion is health care, there are many of us that don’t feel that the killing of a child can ever be health care, and we feel just as strongly as you do in your beliefs.”
If passed, HB 1221/SB 1664 will become effective in July.
Information from the News Service of Florida included in this report.