Senators wrangle over language in ‘abortion ban’ bill

State senators debating ‘abortion ban’ bill on Wednesday. Photo courtesy Sun-Sentinel

State senators met again Wednesday at the Florida Capitol to discuss certain bills, including HB5, the bill that would ban women from terminating their pregnancy after 15 weeks, unless certain conditions detailed in the bill are met.

To recap, on Feb. 15, House representatives approved the bill along party lines, 74-37. The following day, representatives were met with protesters interrupting their meeting by vocalizing their disdain for the bill, calling for security to remove the protesters.

On Feb. 17, the bill received 78 yeas and 39 nays, pushing it into Senate territory. On Wednesday, Senate members voted 15-23, with the majority taking issue with parts of the bill.

Senators debated on an amendment [“the Polsky Amendment”], which touches on the fact that the financial burdens of pregnancy are on woman, especially since it’s easy for the father to abandon all responsibilities. According to Polsky, “This bill ensures that a person carrying a fetus to term is financially supported by the person who caused insemination of the egg before and after the fetus comes out of the womb.”

The floor then opened for debate where members expressed their concerns. Sen. Jason W. B. Pizza, D-Miami, agreed with the amendment, stating, “You can’t create the obligation and move the goal post and not have the attendant financial responsibility that comes along with it. If the state’s assuming responsibility and a compelling interest surely the father should, too. It should begin at 15 weeks.”

Sen. Gary M. Farmer, Jr., D-Fort Lauderdale, talked about how the bill is unjust to women and that the state is taking the woman’s right to decision-making away.

“What are the consequences of that action by the state?” Farmer said. “Well, we know that the immediate consequence is the woman is required to carry the child to term against her wishes. A woman who is forced to carry a child to term against her wishes should absolutely be provided with the child support that enables her to at least live in some minimal level of comfort while she is forced to do so.”

The “Stewart Amendment” was introduced as well, which stricken the part that excludes psychological conditions as a reason to get an abortion. Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami and a candidate for governor, presented her amendment, which removes the requirement of having two physicians. After the removal of two doctors was denied, Taddeo asked in a new amendment to “make sure that the first doctor book an appointment so that we can make sure that there’s no delay in securing the second doctor and if they are unable to secure an appointment within three days then this requirement is waived.”

Sen. Loranne Ausley, D-Tallahassee, did not see her amendment go through. Her amendment included crossing out sections that defines fatal fetal abnormality, gestation and medical abortion. She also asked to remove language which claims abortion after 15 weeks is prohibited. Ausley said the bill should prohibit abortion but also aim to address issues in maternal and infant health and reduce infant mortality.

As of right now, the bill has been placed on its third reading.