Six-Week Abortion Ban Clears First Hurdle in Florida House
Florida - March 16, 2023: A bill that would ban abortions after six-weeks of pregnancy cleared it's first hurdle in the Florida House Thursday.
All 13 republicans on the Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee voted for House Bill 7 which the 5 committee democrats opposed.
The measure was filed by Republican Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka of Fort Myers. The proposed legislation includes an exception allowing abortions up to 15 weeks in cases of rape or incest. A similar bill has been filed in the Florida Senate by Sen. Erin Grall, a Vero Beach Republican.
“I felt it was ready to bring forward additional restrictions that in good polices that promote life in the state of Florida," said Rep. Persons-Mulicka at the opening of the hearing. "It’s a bill that recognizes the importance and value of the life of innocent unborn human beings."
The bill also forbids doctors from using telehealth to provide an abortion and mandates that doctors must be "physically present in the same room as the woman when the termination of pregnancy is performed or when dispensing abortion-inducing drugs."
Last year, the Florida Legislature passed a ban on abortions after 15 weeks, with no exception for rape or incest. However like HB 7, the current law does include exceptions if the procedure is necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. The American Civil Liberties Union and others have filed a lawsuit against the law, but it remains in effect while under appeal.
The ACLU's Neisha-Rose Hines also testified against HB-7 at Thursday's Committee hearing. "Legislating unpopular and unconstitutional bans on abortion is an irresponsible diversion from the real issues that Floridians need our legislature to address," she said. "The ACLU of Florida will continue to fight to protect our constitutional rights."
Along with abortion restrictions, the legislation calls to expand services provided by Florida Department of Health-contracted pregnancy support centers to give assistance for new parents such as clothing, car seats and diapers and counseling.
The bill provides no funding for the expansion of services. However, the Senate version includes $25 million in recurring funding for those services and $5 million in recurring funding for family planning services such as contraception and counseling.
HB 7 / Pregnancy and Parenting Support legislation will save lives and help Florida mothers:
- The following provisions of the bill are subject to a triggering effect that changes Florida’s jurisprudence on the privacy clause in the State Constitution:
- The bill limits abortions after 6 weeks’ gestational age, instead of the current 15-week limit.
- It maintains the current exceptions for maternal life and health, and for cases of fatal fetal anomalies.
- It provides an exception in cases of rape and incest, up to 15 weeks.
- The bill requires abortion-inducing drugs to be dispensed in-person by a physician. The bill expressly prohibits the use of telehealth for abortions, including medication abortions.
- The bill prohibits the use of state funds to pay for the travel out-of-state to obtain an abortion.
- The following provisions take effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature:
- Expands eligibility for pregnancy support services to include families who have adopted children under age three.
- Expands the program to include more services.
For more information on House Bill 7, visit www.myfloridahouse.gov