A controversial bill shortening the time allowed for a woman to have an abortion in Florida has passed the first committee. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, the legislation is House Bill 5… its low number indicates its importance to House leadership.
The legislation removes nine weeks from a woman’s right to a legal abortion.
“I think fifteen weeks is a long time for a woman to know she’s pregnant,” says Senate Patron Kelli Stargel.
The 15 weeks were chosen because a similar Mississippi law is already pending approval or rejection by the US Supreme Court. Stargel says it also makes sense of fetal development.
“I think I recognize that this is a baby and at fifteen weeks these babies have eyelashes and eyebrows and fingers and all that sort of thing. We want to make sure that if someone has to make a decision, they do it sooner, not later.
Tampa obstetrician Dr. Haywood Brown says while most women will know they’re pregnant at 15 weeks, others won’t.
“We still have a lot of women who don’t seek care in the first trimester, so there’s a lot of denial.”
Dozens of speakers had only thirty seconds to make their point.
“Life doesn’t start at fifteen weeks, it starts at conception,” said one man, while an opposing woman voiced her objections. This bill is a blatant attack on the bodily autonomy of Floridians,” she told lawmakers.
Today’s hearing was the first of five. There will be two more in the House, two in the Senate.
Democrat Anna Eskamani said the bill’s quick scheduling in lawmakers’ second week was unusual.
“Florida Republicans are fast-tracking this anti-abortion bill,” Eskamani told us.
She also knows that she and her fellow Democrats are outnumbered
“We can expect this bill to make it to the house floor.” Says the Orlando Democrat. “We will do everything to amplify public opinion.”
The first committee approved legislation on a party-line vote.
The legislation also requires that abortion providers’ monthly reports include information on any pregnancies resulting from human trafficking.