Florida House passes bill to limit type of abortion

March 1, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A bill that would outlaw a type of second-trimester abortion in Florida has passed the House.

Legislators voted 72-42 on Thursday for the proposal (HB 1429), which would prohibit a physician from using forceps and other instruments to remove the fetus from the womb. The bill uses the non-medical term “dismemberment abortion” to describe the procedure.

The vote was mostly on party lines, with three Republicans voting against and two Democrats voting for the legislation. It heads next to the Florida Senate, where its chances of passing are slim, and where a companion bill remains in committee.

House Democrats opposed the bill because they said it would present more obstacles to women seeking legal abortions.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Erin Grall, who is anti-abortion. It allows dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions, but not the use of forceps and other instruments.

The bill provides an exception if it is necessary to save the life of a mother and no other medical procedure would suffice. But in other circumstances, it would make the performing of or participation in a “dismemberment abortion” a third-degree felony. Women who have abortions would be exempt from charges.

The state’s Agency for Health Care Administration reports 69,770 abortions were performed in 2016, with 5,192 (7.4 percent) occurring in the second trimester (13 to 24 weeks). The national average for second-trimester abortions is 9.5 percent according to a House staff analysis.

According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, eight other states have similar laws. In six of those states, the laws face legal challenges.

Judges have struck down two separate abortion laws over the past two years in Florida. One would have mandated a 24-hour waiting period and the other would have required people and groups that provide abortion advice to register with the state. The other would have required providers to furnish women with a detailed explanation of the procedure, and outline alternatives to abortion.

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