Fla. House Democrats Push Back Against Antiabortion Bills

February 1, 2012 — A Florida House committee on Tuesday approved a bill (HB 839) that would prohibit abortion care after 20 weeks of gestation, as well a second measure (HB 1327) that seeks to outlaw abortions based on race or sex, the Florida Independent reports.

Rep. Daniel Davis (R), sponsor of HB 839, claims that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks, although recent research disputes that notion. The bill also states that "any woman upon whom an abortion was performed in violation of this subsection or the father of the unborn child who was the subject of such an abortion may maintain an action against the person who performed the abortion in an intentional or a reckless violation of this subsection for actual damages."

Democrats at Tuesday's committee hearing said the bill would grant rights to the biological father with no exceptions for rapists. Rep. Richard Steinberg (D) asked Davis if he "felt comfortable allowing a rapist to have that discretion." Rep. Marty Kiar (D) said he would not "support a bill that gives a legal right to a rapist" (Lopez, Florida Independent, 1/31).

The second bill would make it illegal to knowingly perform an abortion sought because of the sex or race of the fetus or race of the parent (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/25). Opponents of the measure, including Planned Parenthood, said it could be a burden on doctors, but Steinberg argued that it would only apply if a woman were to offer her reason for having an abortion.

Brian Pitts of Justice-2-Jesus -- who supported many antiabortion bills that passed last session -- testified that HB 1327 was "going overboard" and that lawmakers did not need to pass any more antiabortion bills after last session. Pitts also spoke against HB 839 (Florida Independent, 1/31).