TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Jan. 19, 2017) – A bill introduced in the Florida House would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks, defying a Supreme Court opinion prohibiting states from regulating abortions before 24 weeks.
A coalition of three Republican representatives prefiled House Bill 203 (HB203) on Jan 10. Known as the “Florida Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” the legislation would prohibit abortion of unborn children beyond 20 weeks old and capable of feeling pain. Exceptions are provided if there are serious health risks to the mother. Physicians who perform abortions must submit a comprehensive report to the state Department of Health (DOH) each time the procedure is performed. DOH would then publish an annual report every June of the state abortion statistics.
Violations of the law by physicians would be a classified as a Class C felony. However, the law specifically protects mothers from prosecution for any violations while allowing them to take civil action if one performed on them against their consent.
The proposed legislation also sets up a special account to pay for any state legal expenses in the event of a lawsuit.
Sen. Greg Steube filed a companion bill (SB348) in the Senate.
There Florida bills are similar to an Ohio bill signed into law by Gov. John Kasich earlier this year.
“The 20-week ban was nationally designed to be the vehicle to end abortion in America. It challenges the current national abortion standard and properly moves the legal needle from viability to the baby’s ability to feel pain,” Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis told the Columbus Dispatch.
in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), the Supreme reaffirmed the opinion in Roe v. Wade that a woman has an absolute right to an abortion until fetal viability, while rejecting a trimester structure the court initially used to determine when states could regulate abortion. Current Supreme Court precedent prohibits states from regulating abortion before 24 weeks. HB203 would effectively nullify the SCOTUS criteria.
The opinion of Supreme Court judges notwithstanding, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to regulate abortions. This clearly falls within the objects James Madison said would remain with the state governments – “objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people.”
But in Roe v. Wade, the SCOTUS created a constitutional “right to privacy” out of thin air and enforced it on state governments through the “due process” clause of the 14th Amendment. Justice Byron White captured the absurdity of the ruling in a blistering dissent.
“I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court’s judgment. The Court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant mothers and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes.”
The Florida regular session does not begin until March. Once in session, HB203 and SB348 will receive committee assignments. They will have to pass several committee by a regular vote before moving to the full House and Senate for further consideration.
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