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Fla. House Panel Approves Bills on Abortion, Crimes Against Pregnant Women, Pregnancies Resulting From Rape

Fla. House Panel Approves Bills on Abortion, Crimes Against Pregnant Women, Pregnancies Resulting From Rape

April 5, 2013 — The Florida House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved a bill (HB 845) that would require abortion providers to sign affidavits stating that they are not performing an abortion based on the sex or race of the fetus, the AP/Miami Herald reports. Providers would face a $10,000 fine for violating the requirement.

The bill's critics said that while they oppose abortions sought for those reasons, the measure's requirements would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.

State Rep. Charles Van Zant (R), the bill's sponsor, contended that abortions based on the fetus' sex or race are becoming more common, although he did not provide figures to support the claim (Schreiner, AP/Miami Herald, 4/3).

Bill on Failed Abortions

The committee also approved a bill (HB 1129) that would permit misdemeanor charges if a person does not provide or seek medical care for an infant born after a failed abortion.

The measure also would allow misdemeanor charges for failing to report such incidents to state health authorities. The crimes would be punishable by up to one year in jail, a $1,000 fine or both.

Failed abortions resulting in live births are extremely rare, but providing care for the infant in such cases would be standard medical and ethical procedure, according to Planned Parenthood. The group originally opposed the bill because it included language that would have stripped parental rights from the woman in such situations, but the provision was removed (Schreiner, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4/4).

Bill on Crime Against Pregnant Women

The panel also advanced a bill (HB 759) that would create a separate offense for criminal acts that result in the death of a fetus during an attack on a pregnant woman. The new offense would apply to attacks at any point during pregnancy and would not require the perpetrator to be aware that the woman was pregnant.

Abortion-rights supporters said the bill is an attempt to elevate the status of fetuses to that of people.

Parental Rights Bill

In addition, the panel approved a fourth bill (HB 887) that would permit a woman who became pregnant through rape to go to court to terminate the rapist's parental rights.

The measure drew support from both abortion-rights supporters and opponents (AP/Miami Herald, 4/3).