Florida Bill Would Ban Abortions For People Who Don’t Want Children With Disabilities
Lawmakers in Florida are considering a bill that would make it illegal for doctors to perform abortions for people solely because they don’t want children with disabilities.
The 12-8 vote came after more than an hour of debate, during which members of the committee asked questions and shared personal arguments.
If it becomes law, the bill would apply to physicians who know or should know if abortions they perform were requested solely on the basis of prenatal diagnoses, tests or screenings that indicated fetuses would have disabilities, including physical disabilities, intellectual or mental disabilities and Down’s syndrome.
Doctors who perform abortions in spite of knowing they were a result of prenatal diagnoses of disabilities would face third-degree felony charges and regulatory consequences, Fox 13 News reports.
Abortions would still be allowed if necessary to ‘save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, illness or injury, provided that no other medical procedure would suffice for that purpose’.
Erin Grall, who sponsored the bill, argued that the Legislature has a duty ‘to have difficult conversations’ and said the bill was necessary in order to prevent abortion from ‘becoming a tool of modern-day eugenics’, which involves the use of reproduction to try to develop children with certain characteristics.
On the other hand, committee member Kelly Skidmore said the bill would serve to put another layer of shame on women who choose to have abortions.
She also noted that creating the law could force women to lie to their physicians regarding their reasons for having a termination, or search for doctors who will perform abortions, potentially leading to unsafe procedures.
Committee member Allison Tant shared her own experience of raising a child with an intellectual disability, explaining that she was first advised something was wrong after a sonogram when she was 11 weeks pregnant.
Recalling the situation, she said:
My doctor threw up his hands and he said, ‘I don’t know what to do. There’s something wrong. I don’t know what it is. Go see a specialist and you might need to consider termination.’
The termination I considered was the termination of my doctor. I couldn’t take that step. I worked too hard to get there.
Tant said she does not regret her decision to go through with the pregnancy, but acknowledged that it came at both an emotional and financial cost as she had to fight for her son to get early intervention services and face extra challenges throughout his education.
She commented, ‘Every single family must have the right to determine their own family issues. They must make their own decision without mandate from people like us who are not directly involved in their lives.’
Following approval from the Health & Human Services Committee, the bill is positioned to go to the full House. If passed, Florida would be the 10th state to enact a law banning so-called disability abortions.
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