Disability abortion bill clears House committee
Image via Colin Hackley.

The proposal chips away at abortion rights, opponents say.

Disability abortions may soon be outlawed under a bill cleared by a House committee Tuesday.

The Health and Human Services Committee OK’d the bill (HB 1221) with an 12-8 vote. Rep. Erin Grall, a Vero Beach Republican, is the bill sponsor.

Grall’s proposal would prohibit a physician from performing an abortion if they know or should know that a woman’s decision to abort is based on a test result that suggests a disability.

The bill makes exception for abortions deemed necessary to save a woman’s life. It also extends immunity to a woman if they violate or conspire to violate the provision.

According to the bill, the prohibition would apply to defects, diseases and disorders including but not limited to:

— A physical disability

— A mental or intellectual disability

— A physical disfigurement

— Scoliosis

— Dwarfism

— Down syndrome

— Albinism

— Amelia

— A physical or mental disease

The proposal came under heavy fire from pro-choice advocates and Democrats including Rep. Kelly Skidmore of Boca Raton.

Skidmore described the bill as another slight against a “woman’s fundamental right.”

“This bill forces me to lie to my doctor and sneak around to another doctor,” Skidmore said. “It’s another layer of shame on top of a difficult decision. We already know ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell doesn’t work.’ This is another version. I just don’t believe that this is helping the disability community in the way that you believe it is.”

Democratic Rep. Nicholas Duran of Miami suggested the bill encroaches on personal privacy.

He noted that similar measures have failed in other states such as Indiana.

“Deeply personal decisions about abortion should be made by a woman in consultation with their doctor, not by politicians or government bureaucrats,” Duran said.

Meanwhile, proponents including Republicans argued the bill protects the unborn from a eugenics-like practice.

“We need to consider the rights of the unborn just as much, I believe, as we consider the rights of the individuals that are walking around in our society,” said Republican Rep. Ralph Massullo of Lecanto.

Republican Tyler Sirois of Merrit Island highlighted that while the issue is contentious, it does not prohibit abortions if the baby has a fatal condition.

A disability, Sirois said, is “not a disqualifier for life.”

“This bill acknowledges that these are lives worth living and that they add value and make a contribution,” he said. “Whether it’s in arts or in music, or just bringing smiles to the people around them, or even if it’s just simply feeling the sunshine on their face.”

Grall’s proposal moves next to the House floor.

If signed into law, the bill would take effect July 1.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


  • Lawrence H Pierce

    April 6, 2021 at 5:36 pm

    HB1221 is bill that needs not go any further. This bill steps on the free choice of women. It is without merit of consideration.

  • Florida Voice for the Unborn

    April 6, 2021 at 6:16 pm

    Florida Voice for the Unborn’s executive director was the sole pro-life speaker to testify in favor of House Bill 1221 (Prohibition of Disability Abortions) at today’s committee hearing. Afterward, he issued the following statement regarding the bill’s advancement:

    “Florida Voice for the Unborn applauds the House Health and Human Services Committee for passing this afternoon House Bill 1221, which will stop Florida abortions based on a diagnosis of genetic disability. The vote was 12-to-8 in favor of the bill, with one Republican shamefully joining all Democrats in opposition. This is the bill’s second and final stop before consideration by the full House.

    Thank you to pro-life champion Rep. Erin Grall (R—Indian River & St. Lucie Counties) for sponsoring this much needed piece of pro-life legislation, which – when enacted into law – will contribute to building an authentic Culture of Life here in the Sunshine State. Thanks also goes to Health and Human Services Committee members Rep. Clay Yarborough (R—Duval County), Rep. Will Robinson (R—Manatee & Sarasota Counties), and Rep. Tyler Sirois (R—Brevard County) for co-sponsoring the legislation.

    Children who are diagnosed with Down syndrome or another genetic disability prior to their birth should not be targeted for extermination. They are God’s children and have the same right to life as all other persons. I was proud to testify today in favor of House Bill 1221 and I am proud of all of Florida Voice for the Unborn’s grassroots supporters throughout the state who contacted the committee members on short notice to ensure victory today. Florida Voice for the Unborn has been the leader on this life-saving legislation from the very beginning.

    While Democratic opposition to this pro-life legislation was expected during the committee hearing today, I am utterly outraged that a ‘Republican’ joined with all Democratic Health and Human Service Committee members to vote against House Bill 1221. Committee member Rep. Mike Caruso (R—Palm Beach County) claims to be a ‘moderate,’ but his ‘no’ vote today showed him to be nothing less than a pro-abortion extremist, who believes that lethal discrimination against disabled unborn children is justified. I would advise Rep. Caruso to read the pro-life plank in his political party’s platform and if he cannot abide by it, then he should find a new party to join.

    Sadly, pro-life victories this Legislative Session have thus far been few and far between. Florida Voice for the Unborn calls upon House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R—Pinellas County) to schedule a floor vote on House Bill 1221 as soon as possible. Time is of the essence because the companion bill in the Senate (Senate Bill 1664) has been blocked by the pro-abortion chair of the Senate’s Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee, Senator Lauren Book (D—Broward County), who has refused to place the bill on her committee’s agenda. Since Senate President Wilton Simpson (R—Citrus, Hernando, & Pasco Counties) unwisely (and quite frankly bizarrely) re-appointed Book as chair last December, he will need to employ a special procedural maneuver once the full House passes House Bill 1221 in order for the Senate to vote on the legislation. Florida Voice for the Unborn fully expects the House and Senate leadership to get this ban on disability abortions to the desk of pro-life Governor Ron DeSantis by the end of the Legislative Session, which concludes April 30th. Anything less is completely unacceptable.”


    Florida Voice for the Unborn is a Tallahassee-based grassroots lobbying group that only focuses on pro-life issues impacting the unborn. It is strictly independent, and its work is guided by faith in God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. Florida Voice for the Unborn supports all peaceful efforts by elected officials and others to end abortion and save lives. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Parler @UnbornVoiceFL – and visit our website.

    • Jimmie

      April 7, 2021 at 8:11 pm

      Get ready for more children added to the already significant amount of state children, no one is adopting

  • Voice of reason

    April 7, 2021 at 9:02 am

    When it comes to abortion, we must graple with this reality “if it is a human, no justification is acceptable to murder an innocent human: if the thing in the mother is not human, no justification is needed”
    If it is growing, has all the human DNA he/she will ever have, may be a different blood type and sex from the mother… what is the preborn baby?

    • Jimmie

      April 7, 2021 at 8:12 pm

      This is the mother’s business only!!!
      Many affected fetuseses do not make it to term, it is wrong to force that on a person.

Comments are closed.


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