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Bill to prevent disability-based abortion endorsed by Florida House committee

by | Apr 8, 2021

By Dave Andrusko

Florida State Rep. Erin Grall

Florida is bidding to become the tenth state to ban abortions based on a prenatal diagnosis of disability. These nine states–North Dakota, Indiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, Ohio, Missouri and Tennessee–are already in the fold.

On  Tuesday the state Health and Human Services Committee voted 12-8 in favor of House Bill 1221. HB 1221 now heads to the full House for a vote.

State Rep. Erin Grall, the bill’s sponsor, said her legislation tries to give a voice to the voiceless and curtail gene discrimination of the handicapped, Jason Delgado of Florida Politics reported. “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.” 

“Grall’s proposal would prohibit a physician from performing an abortion if they know or should know that a woman’s decision to abort is based on a test result that suggests a disability,” Delgado explained.

According to Delgado’s account, Republican Rep. Ralph Massullo of Lecanto said

“We need to consider the rights of the unborn just as much, I believe, as we consider the rights of the individuals that are walking around in our society.” 

Republican Tyler Sirois of Merrit Island highlighted that while the issue is contentious, it does not prohibit abortions if the baby has a fatal condition.

A disability, Sirois said, is “not a disqualifier for life.”

“This bill acknowledges that these are lives worth living and that they add value and make a contribution,” he said. “Whether it’s in arts or in music, or just bringing smiles to the people around them, or even if it’s just simply feeling the sunshine on their face.”

Democrats, of course, opposed the bill and one offered a candid admission:

“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.”

The bill has not yet been heard in the state Senate.

Categories: Legislation
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