After lawmakers passed a 15-week limit last year, the Florida House on Thursday started moving forward with a proposal that would prevent abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
The GOP-controlled House Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee voted 13 to five along party lines to approve the proposed restrictions after hearing often-emotional testimony about issues such as women’s health and pregnancies caused by rapes.
Last year’s 15-week law has drawn criticism because it does not include exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.
The new bill would allow abortions up to 15 weeks of pregnancy in cases of rape or incest, but it would require women to present documentation to prove they were victims.
Bill sponsor Jenna Persons-Mulicka says the bill promotes life and supports families, “It’s a bill that recognizes the importance and value of the life of innocent, unborn human beings.”
But Democratic Representative Kelly Skidmore described the bill as a de facto abortion ban, saying it doesn’t take into account different circumstances that women face when they become pregnant.
“We are talking about health care, but it has been turned into something like a moral decision to be made instead of health care,” said Skidmore.
The bill has quickly refueled a fierce debate about abortion rights in Florida — amid a broader national debate after the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion-rights decision.
The Senate Health Policy Committee is scheduled Monday to take up a similar bill.