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New Florida bill would make performing abortions a felony

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/Charles-Van-Zant-360x270.jpgFlorida Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Palatka (Photo: myfloridahouse.gov/Meredith Geddings)

Last week, Florida state Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Palatka, followed through on his announcement that he would bring back a bill that bans abortion in the state of Florida, providing only an exception to save the life of the mother. Van Zant’s bill would make performing an abortion a felony.

House Bill 1151 would create the “Florida for Life Act,” a law that would essentially outlaw all abortions in direct defiance of legal abortion rights in the U.S.

According to a summary, the bill would prohibit “induced abortions,” the operation of a facility that provides abortions, the termination of any pregnancy “unless specified conditions are met.”

Van Zant’s bill (.pdf) states that “the Legislature acknowledges that all persons are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and that first among these is their right to life.”

The bill does not provide exceptions for rape or incest, either. It only provides an exception for a woman who is facing a threat to her life if she carries out a pregnancy. According to the bill, “woman’s life is a superior consideration to the concern for the life of the fetus and the woman’s health is a superior consideration to the concern for the health of the fetus when such life or health concerns are in conflict.”

According to the bill:

A termination of pregnancy may not be performed unless:

(a) Two physicians certify in writing to the fact that, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the termination of pregnancy is necessary to prevent the death of the patient;

(b) Two physicians certify in writing to the fact that, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the termination of pregnancy is necessary because to continue the pregnancy would unreasonably reduce the likelihood of successful treatment of a life-threatening disease of the patient; or

(c) A physician certifies in writing that a medical emergency existed and another physician was not available for consultation prior to the time necessary to perform the termination of pregnancy. The physician’s written certification must clearly describe the medical emergency.

The bill also requires that “physicians and personnel at a medical facility … provide certain women and minors who have been treated by the facility with information regarding adoption and a statewide list of attorneys available to provide volunteer legal services for adoption.”

Van Zant, an ordained Baptist minister, has unsuccessfully introduced a similar bill multiple times. This past October, he told Creative Loafing he would be introducing the bill again.

The Legislature has already introduced a bill written by the Florida Catholic Conference that would redefine the death of a “viable fetus” as the death of an “unborn child.” The bill would also change laws for vehicular manslaughter involving a pregnant woman.

Another bill introduced by state Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, would restrict “the circumstances in which an abortion may be performed in the third trimester or after viability.” Flores’ bill also pushes forward a handful of anti-abortion measures that did not make it through last session, including targeted laws for abortion providers and a waiting period for women seeking an abortion.

Early last month, state Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville, introduced a “fetal pain” bill that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks.

Van Zant’s proposal brings the running count of anti-abortion/reproductive rights bill to seven for the 2012 session. During last year’s session, 18 such bills were introduced.

Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, has introduce the Senate version of Van Zant’s abortion ban.

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