Abortion 'viability' bill headed to Florida Senate floor

Senator says bill erodes women's right to choose

The Senate Rules Committee on Monday narrowly approved a bill that could prohibit certain abortions now legal in Florida, sending the measure to the full Senate.

The committee supported, in a 6-5 party-line vote, a proposal (SB 918) by Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores that is intended to prevent abortions after fetuses reach the point of "viability."

Flores said the bill won't hinder a woman's ability to get an abortion in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. But Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, said the measure "clearly erodes" a women's right to choose, imposes a legislative judgment on individual decisions regarding family and faith, and fails to address cases of rape, incest or human trafficking.

Under current law, abortions in most cases are barred during the third trimester of pregnancy. But the bill would require that physicians conduct examinations before performing abortions to determine if fetuses are viable. If viability is reached, abortions would generally not be allowed -- a change that the bill's supporters say could prevent abortions around the 20th week of pregnancy. The House version (HB 1047) of the bill was approved April 11 in a 70-45 vote.

A Senate calendar published late Monday indicates Flores' bill could be heard on the Senate floor as soon as Thursday.