Bill In Florida House Outlaws Abortion, Direct Challenge to Roe

A bill has been filed in the Florida House that would ban all
abortions with the sole exemption to save the life of the mother, a direct
constitutional challenge to Roe vs. Wade. The Jacksonville
Observer reports

Sponsored by Rep. Charles Van Zant,
R-Palatka, HB 1097 would criminalize most abortions now allowed under state and
federal law, increase penalties for physicians who perform such services and
require pregnant women to receive more information on adoption. The bill was
filed Wednesday, the same day that right to life groups made the trek to
Tallahassee to meet lawmakers and rally support.

The bill has no companion legislation in the Senate. Planned Parenthood of Florida told the Tallahassee
the bill is “totally unconstitutional.”

“This is the most rigid and
inflexible ban on abortion in the United States,” said [Stephanie Kunkel,
state director of Planned Parenthood]. “Not only does it ban abortion, it
also has absolutely no exceptions for rape or incest.”

She said abortion opponents tried a
similar plan in South Dakota with a ballot initiative that lost by 56-44
percent in 2006. Two years later, she said, another abortion ban was voted down
in that state.

“His ultimate goal here is to
challenge the Supreme Court’s decision, Roe v. Wade, by passing an
unconstitutional bill,” she said. “This fight would have to end up in
the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The Tallahassee
thinks the chances of the bill passing the House and Senate are unlikely, and even
if passed would put Florida’s governor Charlie Crist, who is up for election,
in a “tough spot.”

With no House co-sponsors and no
Senate companion bill, even a non-controversial measure is a long shot;
anything as hot as abortion seems extra hard in an election year. If Van Zant’s
bill got through the Legislature, Gov. Charlie Crist – who describes himself as
“pro-life” but stayed out of the 2005 Terri Schiavo case as attorney
general – would be in a tough spot.

Former House Speaker Marco Rubio,
Crist’s Republican opponent in the U.S. Senate race, is adamantly opposed to
abortion and is appealing to the most conservative wing of the Republican
Party. That means, if legislators felt like fighting over abortion, the
governor’s office would work behind the scenes to defuse the issue.

The Jacksonville
Observer reported
that House Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Ocala, said “he would
allow it to be heard if Van Zant can rally enough support.”

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