Tallahassee, Fla. • Under a new law, abortions will be illegal in Florida at any point in a woman’s pregnancy if her doctor determines that the fetus could survive outside the womb.
Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Friday that redefines that state’s current third trimester abortion ban.
Current law prohibits abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy unless the mother’s life is at risk. The new law will require women to have a doctor determine whether a fetus is viable before having an abortion. It also removes the exception of psychological trouble as an exception.
The law takes effect July 1. It keeps an exception if a mother’s life is at risk or to prevent irreversible physical impairment of a mother’s major bodily function.
The measure passed the House 70-45 and the Senate 24-15.
"Governor Scott is pro-life and was glad to sign this bill that protects the lives of children," spokesman John Tupps said in an email.
Democrats opposed the legislation throughout the committee process and during the 2014 session. Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, is worried that doctors could be open to criminal prosecution and said different physicians can have different determinations.
"It is commonplace for people to get second and third opinions sometimes when they’re dealing with something very important," Rehwinkel Vasilinda said. "And we know that physicians do have differences of opinion.
"It’s just ... something that we shouldn’t have done."
Former Sen. Nan Rich is running for the Democratic nomination in the race for governor this fall. She said in a written statement that Scott’s signing is "an outrage."
"Over the objections of nearly every group representing Florida women, this morning Rick Scott signed HB 1047, which places even more restrictions on women’s access to reproductive choice," Rich wrote. "Every time we let our guard down on protecting women, extremists go after our rights in Tallahassee."
The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops have consistently supported the legislation and said advances in medicine and technology has shown that, "some babies are capable of survival outside of the womb in the second trimester."
"This good legislation protects our society’s most vulnerable, the unborn, and recognizes that an unborn child who is viable and can sustain life outside of the womb has a right to life," spokeswoman Ingrid Delgado said in a written statement.
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