Senate Passes Controversial Abortion Bill to House
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Disregarding a threat by House Democrats and the admonishment of one male Republican, the Senate voted Thursday to require that most pregnant women in their first trimester pay for an ultrasound when seeking an abortion.
The Senate passed by 23-16 a House health care bill amended with the ultrasound requirement, proposed by Orlando Republican Andy Gardiner. The bill now goes back to the House for a vote.
The amendment also requires that patients watch images from the procedure unless they have shown doctors evidence of rape, domestic abuse or incest, or signed away the viewing requirement with a waiver.
“Government is going a bit far this time,” said Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa. “Let’s just stop it."
Early in the day, House Democrats decided they would block votes on any Senate bill sent to the House floor unless the ultrasound amendment and an amendment forbidding the use of taxpayer money to pay for abortions were taken out of the bill.
Although House Democrats are outnumbered by the majority 76-44, 80 votes are needed to take up Senate legislation that has yet to be heard on the House floor. They would still have to hear the amended bill, as it started in the House, but they spent the morning following through on their threat.
Much of the debate that preceded the vote echoed the arguments offered when the amendment was attached to HB 1143 the previous day. Republicans asserted the bill ensured women were properly informed with an ultrasound before going through with an abortion.
“After you’ve been informed of all the anomalies, of all the potential problems, maybe it will have an impact on your life,” Gardiner said.
Most of the Senate's Democrats and nine females opposed the bill, saying it violated their privacy and right to a choice, and the vote closely resembled Wednesday’s vote on the amendment itself.
They were joined by one Republican male.
Espousing the philosophy of former Senate President Jim King, who died last year, Bradenton Republican Mike Bennett told senators: "If you don't ovulate, stay out of the debate."
He said that this was one of the times politics must be put aside to respect the rights of people who do not have control of their decision.
"Think about your children. Think about your daughter. Think about your granddaughter. Things happen. It's simply true," he said.
Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, and Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, were the only women to vote for the bill. Dockery voted against the amendment Wednesday but changed her vote Thursday. She didn’t stick around afterward to explain she voted in favor of it, but as she debated, the pro-life gubernatorial hopeful said, “I’m torn. I’m very torn.”
Reach Alex Tiegen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (561) 329-5389.