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Fla. House Committee Approves 'Personhood' Bill

January 27, 2016 — The Florida House Criminal Justice Committee on Monday voted 8-3 to advance a measure (HB 865) that would ban abortions in almost all cases, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

According to the AP/Bee, state Rep. Charles Van Zant (R) has introduced the bill every year for the previous seven years. However, the vote Monday marks the first time the committee has taken up the proposed legislation.

Bill Details

Under the measure, "life" would be defined as starting from the moment of conception. Abortion care would be illegal unless two physicians provide written statements that withholding the procedure endangers a woman's life or poses a serious and irreversible risk to her health.

Next Steps, Prospects

The bill must pass in two more committees before it can go to a vote in the full state House.

However, the measure's chances of passage or surviving a legal challenge are slim, according to state lawmakers and legislative staff. They said the bill, if challenged, would be unlikely to stand under the state's Constitution or U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

State Rep. Dave Kerner (D) said he was "compelled and required to vote against this bill," noting, "It's clearly unconstitutional. I think it violates the rights of women on so many levels."

According to the AP/Bee, the measure is one of several Florida antiabortion-rights bills that have received approval from at least one legislative committee. Other measures include a bill (S 1722, HB 1411) that would bar facilities that offer abortion care from receiving Medicaid reimbursement, a bill that would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, a bill (HB 233) that would require abortion clinics to meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers and a bill that would bar researchers from using fetal tissue resulting from abortion (March, AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/25).