The Florida House Just Advanced a Law That Would Make Abortion a Felony


In the immediate wake of the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Florida lawmakers are advancing a bill that would severely undermine the historic legislation. A House criminal justice panel voted Monday to advance HB 865, which would make operating abortion clinics as well as performing abortions first-degree felonies in the state, according to the Miami Herald.

The bill, which was advanced by an 8-3 vote, states that "all human life comes from the creator, has an inherent value that cannot be quantified by man and begins at the earliest biological development of a fertilized human egg," and that "personal liberty is not a license to kill or otherwise destroy any form of human life," according to the Miami Herald.

"The bill recognizes that both the mother and the baby are citizens of the state of Florida," the bill's sponsor, Rep. Charles Van Zant (R-Keystone Heights) told the Miami Herald, adding, "We are therefore compelled to protect their lives."

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The bill would not just ban clinic operation and the procedure itself, but also implement restrictions related to informed consent, ultrasound requirements, fetal research and insurance coverage, according to RH Reality Check.

"The Florida legislature's actions are imprudent, wasteful and unconstitutional — there is simply no compelling reason to move forward with this legislation until the Supreme Court rules," Michelle Richardson, director of public policy of the ACLU of Florida, said in a statement issued earlier this month of the bill. "Today's committee vote is a reminder of the constant struggle a woman faces in Florida to make her own reproductive health decisions. These personal decisions belong with a woman, her family and her doctor, not politicians at the Capitol."

The Supreme Court ruling to which Richardson refers to is Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, based on the HB 2 bill in Texas, which forces the majority of abortion clinics in the state to adhere to regulations that are not only "burdensome and medically unnecessary," but which would ultimately allow 10 clinics to remain open in the entire state, according to Vocativ

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A national ruling in favor of continuing to support women's legal right to abortion in this case could do much to counter the increasing number of state-level attacks in this nation. In fact, HB 865 is just one of many bans that have increasingly swept the nation in recent years. States have adopted 288 abortion restrictions since 2010, according to the Guttmacher Institute, including specific measures like ultrasound restrictions and propositions for bans requiring fetus burial.

HB 865 serves as a crucial reminder that the influx of state-level abortion bans is hardly abating in 2016. As Marcela Howell, founder and executive director of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda, told Mic on Friday, "These laws are not about making women's lives better ... They're about keeping women from accessing a legal right and a safe medical procedure."

h/t Miami Herald