6-week abortion ban bill clears final House committee
Jenna Persons-Mulicka wants school superintendents to be elected, not selected.

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The 'heartbeat' bill will be on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon.

The second and final House committee of reference has approved new abortion restrictions.

The next step for Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka’s measure (HB 7) will be the House floor, after the Health and Human Services Committee was up on the “heartbeat” abortion bill. The measure would ban abortion in most cases after the sixth week of gestation.

“This bill provides for new limits on the termination of pregnancies,” noted the Naples Republican in introduction of the bill, which passed 14-6 along party lines.

This would represent a change from the current 15-week threshold, which legislators hailed as a reasonable compromise when they passed it last year.

Asked about the change from what she called “landmark legislation” in 2022, the sponsor cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling as making the issue of “life and how to protect life” the “purview” of the Legislature. It “reflects consensus” in the “medical and scientific communities” that there is a heartbeat by the sixth week of gestation, she argued.

She added that she does believe “life begins at conception,” and does not believe “six weeks is the magic line.”

“I would protect life from Day One,” Persons-Mulicka contended.

The Legislature could go farther in the future, perhaps toward a total abortion ban, rather than the “near-total ban” critics decried Thursday morning. Persons-Mulicka noted in response to a Democratic question that “we cannot predict what a future Legislature might do.”

2022’s HB 5 made no exception for cases of rape and incest, a controversy at the time. However, the current bill offers a compromise of sorts, allowing abortion up to the 15th week of pregnancy if the woman was impregnated by rape or incest or a combination thereof.

Other exceptions would apply. If the pregnant woman is judged by two doctors to be in danger of dying or suffering “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman other than a psychological condition,” she could have an abortion. If only one doctor were available, that sole physician’s recommendation would suffice.

Likewise, if the fetus had a “fatal abnormality,” abortion would be permitted during the first two trimesters.

Committee members floated two amendments at this committee stop.

One that failed from Democratic Rep. Kelly Skidmore would have allowed telehealth consultations for “informed consent” if the patient lived more than 100 miles from the nearest abortion provider.

This amendment got pushback from Republican Rep. Ralph Massullo, who pointed out the stress brought on by an abortion decision.

“While I am not a woman, I have seen individuals in stressful situations,” the dermatologist from Lecanto said.

Skidmore contended his position was “offensive” as it suggested “women can’t make decisions and don’t know what they’re doing.” But her closing argument didn’t sway the predominately Republican committee.

The other, from Republican Rep. Jennifer Canady, was successful.

The Canady amendment aligned the House product with a provision in SB 300, filed by Fort Pierce Republican Sen. Erin Grall.

It allocates $25 million for the expanded Florida Pregnancy Care Network, which critics call “fake clinics” that try to discourage women from having the procedure. It also cedes $5 million to the Florida Department of Health from implementation.

The bill may have a major supporter in the executive branch. Gov. Ron DeSantis said he was “willing to sign” such legislation last year, and he said the same thing Tuesday to reporters in Tallahassee.

“Exceptions are sensible. And like I said, we welcome pro-life legislation,” DeSantis said.

The Senate companion bill has already cleared both committees and will be on the floor Thursday afternoon.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


3 comments

  • Darnell A. Hobbs

    March 30, 2023 at 10:38 am

    I can only assume that Florida Republicans will be vastly expanding welfare services in Florida now too, to help pay for this incoming flood of unwanted children?
    Or are we just going to let them grow up in impoverished conditions and hope for the best?

  • Ian

    March 31, 2023 at 7:42 am

    Way to lose elections for years to come

    • Ocean Joe

      April 1, 2023 at 6:57 pm

      Yes, all those old white guys in the legislature screwed every woman in Florida in order to please those snake handling youth pastors. The rich will fly their teenage daughters to those yucky blue states, and like Desantis and his booster shot, mum’s the word.

Comments are closed.


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