Prohibits abortion after 15 weeks, expands programs to reduce fetal and infant deaths
The Florida Senate Committee on Health Policy, chaired by Senator Manny Diaz, Jr. (R-Hialeah), today passed Senate Bill 146, Fetal and Infant Mortality Reduction, by Senator Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland). Taking into account modern medical and scientific knowledge that confirms significant developmental milestones of an unborn child, the legislation prohibits abortion after the unborn baby has reached 15 weeks of gestational age. The legislation also increases health care and education resources available to pregnant mothers and women who may become pregnant with a focus on the prevention of fetal and infant death in Florida.
“When Roe v. Wade was decided almost half a century ago, scientific knowledge of fetal development was very limited. We now know so much more about how a baby develops inside the mother’s womb. We also know that later-term abortions pose greater health risks to women,” said Senator Stargel. “Having once been a scared teenage mother myself, I understand the challenge and anguish of a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, but I support life, and believe we have a duty to protect it. This bill safeguards innocent, unborn children with beating hearts, who can move, taste, see, feel pain, and whose lives should be protected under the laws of this state.”
“Abortion kills children and forever changes the life of the mother, the father, and the entire extended family. As an adoptive child myself, it’s always been important to me that we do everything we can to promote adoption as an alternative to abortion,” said Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby). “I applaud Senator Stargel for bringing forward legislation that recognizes the significant scientific advancements that have occurred over the last 50 years. Every unborn child is a special and unique human being deserving of protection from harm and the chance to grow up in a loving family. Coupled with major investments in child welfare programs, the legislation continues our efforts to keep Florida a state where we support parents and protect children.”
The bill clarifies the term “gestation” to provide a more commonly understood and medically accepted measurement of development. As such, the bill defines the term “gestation” to calculate from the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP) rather than from fertilization. This guarantees a more consistent application than counting from fertilization by relying less on physician interpretation.
With regard to the prohibition on abortion following 15 weeks of gestation, the bill provides the same exceptions under current law for the prohibition on third trimester abortions to protect the health and safety of the mother. The legislation adds an exception for a “fatal fetal abnormality,” a terminal condition that, in reasonable medical judgment, is incompatible with life outside the womb and will result in death upon birth or imminently thereafter. Because fatal fetal abnormalities are often not identified until testing during the second trimester, abortion may be performed if two physicians certify in writing that a fatal fetal abnormality is present.
Improved Reporting on Human Trafficking
The bill also provides for improvements to the reporting of data on abortions, including increased reporting on human trafficking and requiring the use of standardized forms consistent with the U.S. Standard Report of Induced Termination of Pregnancy adopted by the CDC.
Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Committees
The bill expands and funds fetal and infant mortality review committees (FIMRs) in areas of the state that do not currently have a program to reduce fetal and infant mortality and morbidity. These locally organized groups review fetal and infant deaths in their areas, report on causes and trends, make recommendations, and engage with other community stakeholders — including Healthy Start, hospitals, and physicians — in initiatives and efforts to reduce fetal and infant mortality and morbidity.
Requires all hospitals that offer labor and delivery services to participate in at least two initiatives within the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative (FPQC, which is housed at the University of South Florida) to reduce infant mortality.
Tobacco Education and Use Prevention
The bill also directs the Florida Department of Health (DOH) to target counter-marketing advertising campaigns under the Comprehensive Statewide Tobacco Education and Use Prevention Program specific to pregnant women and women who may become pregnant to inform them about the potential risks and harm of tobacco use.