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Florida bill banning 'disability abortions' heads to House floor

'Women are not making these decisions flippantly,' State Rep. Kelly Skidmore says
Posted at 6:31 PM, Apr 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-06 18:31:20-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida is moving closer to banning "disability abortions."

A House panel sent HB 1221 to the chamber floor Tuesday afternoon on a 12-8 vote.

If approved, physicians face a second- or third-degree felony for knowingly performing an abortion solely because a fetus had a physical, intellectual or mental disability. Doctors could also be charged if they "should have known" the purpose of a disability abortion.

The bill's sponsor, State Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, said her legislation tries to give a voice to the voiceless and curtail gene discrimination of the handicapped.

State Rep. Erin Grall
State Rep. Erin Grall says the legislation tries to give a voice to the voiceless

"The state has a compelling interest to ensure eugenics isn't used as a tool to manipulate our population," she said. "That's what we have seen happen in other countries around genetic testing for fetal abnormalities."

With the governor's signature, Florida would join nine other states with similar policies including North Dakota, Indiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, Ohio, Missouri and Tennessee.

Most Democrats, however, remain staunchly opposed.

State Rep. Kelly Skidmore
State Rep. Kelly Skidmore is among the Democratic lawmakers staunchly opposed to the bill.

During the committee discussion of the bill, some Democrats worried the language was too broad. Others believed decisions on abortion should be left to families, not the state.

"I know that many people think that we're out shopping, getting our nails done, and oh, by the way, I’m going to stop in and have an abortion," said Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton. "We don't do things like that. Women are not making these decisions flippantly. But, even if they are -- it's their right."

For the bill to arrive on the governor’s desk, it also requires the support of the Senate. Its version of the bill has yet to be scheduled for discussion in any committee stops. Though Grall hoped her chamber's approval would spur action across the hall, those chances drop as the session wanes.