Bill Requiring Doctors to Discuss "Fetal Pain" with Abortion Patients Moves Through Florida House

The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature is moving forward this session with a number of restrictive anti-abortion bills, the newest of which would require doctors to discuss research on the possibility of fetal pain caused by the termination of pregnancy. Though, there's little conclusive evidence as to when a fetus can start feeling pain, with many scientists believing it isn't until the third-trimester, long after the vast majority of abortions of carried out. Strange how a party that seems to be anti-regulation and wary of all but the most conclusive scientific research (see the climate change debate) would push a bill like this through.

HB321, introduced by Republican Rep. Carlos Truijillo of Miami, would require all women seeking an abortion to undergo (and pay for) an ultrasound and force doctors to discuss real pain if the abortion is being carried out after 22-weeks. Democratic legislators forced a rare procedural move last year that shut down the legislature to try and block a similar bill that would require ultrasounds. The bill ultimately passed, but Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed the law.

This version of the bill may prove to be even more controversial, as it includes the language about fetal pain. It is believed that it would be impossible for a fetus to feel any pain before 20 weeks, while research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association claims it is unlikely for the fetus to feel pain until the third trimester.

Though, the vast majority of abortions are out before the first trimester. The bill has originally called for a ban on all abortions after the first trimester, but was watered down to only include language forcing doctors to discuss the possibility of fetal pain.

The bill passed the House Health and Human Services subcommittee today by a vote of 10-4. A similar bill has been introduced in the state Senate.

"Give those children the same dignity and respect we give to stray dogs and stray cats," Trujillo said, comparing abortion to the euthanization of animals.

Though, many democratic lawmakers claimed that the state had no business dictating what the state was able to ask and not ask their patients (Republicans have also championed a law that would make it illegal for doctors to ask patients about whether or not they own a gun, but perhaps they would like to make gun dealers discuss how it feels when a bullet enters someone's body with all potential buyers?)

This is not the only bill introduced this year that would place restrictions on abortion. Amendments to the state constitution have been filed seeking to severely limit the number of abortions paid for by health insurance companies even in cases of rape and incest.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Kyle Munzenrieder