A bill filed by Rep. Joe Gruters in the Florida House on Tuesday contends that the ability to feel pain by a fetus should limit a mother’s ability to abort it.
House Bill 203, the Florida Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, asserts that “the abortion of an unborn child capable of feeling pain unless it is necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.”
The threshold for determining that feeling of pain: the doctor’s determination that the child has gestated for 20 or more weeks. The doctor would determine such via ultrasound.
If the mother’s health is at risk, requiring a waiver to this law in terms of application, the doctor must determine a method of terminating the pregnancy that gives the child the best chance to survive the abortion. The permissible exception: documentation that using such a method would imperil the life of the mother.
Documentation would have to be provided of the nature of the maternal medical emergency.
Fines and penalties would be imposed on doctors who don’t comply with reporting requirements, starting off at $1,000 for each late report. Gradually, the penalties for non-compliance escalate.
A falsified report, meanwhile, is considered to be a first-degree misdemeanor.
Doctors who violate the provisions of this legislation are subject to civil action from the mother or the father, if they perform an abortion outside of the guidelines of this proposed law.
Injunctions against further abortions by doctors who violate this legislation can be attained by a woman who had the procedure outside of compliance, as well as by “the spouse, parent, sibling, or guardian of, or a current or former licensed health care provider of the woman upon whom an abortion was performed or induced.”
The bill also establishes the Florida Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act Litigation Account, a trust fund intended to defray costs to the Attorney General’s office from legal actions related to this law.
If passed, the law takes effect in July, 2017.