A Florida bill designed to delay a person’s decision to get an abortion was approved Thursday by a house committee. The bill, HB 633, would amend the state’s “informed consent” law by requiring patients to wait at least 24 hours to obtain the procedure after meeting with their physician.
Currently, Florida physicians must get the written consent of patients seeking abortions after giving them specific information about their pregnancy. That information includes explaining to the woman any risks of the procedure and an estimated gestational age of the fetus based on an ultrasound, the images of which must be offered for viewing by the woman.
The physician is also required to provide her with printed material prepared by the state government that describes the stages of fetal development, a list of crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) in the area, and information on prenatal and childbirth care.
CPCs are run by anti-choice groups that dole out misinformation, a strategy designed to encourage pregnant people to avoid abortion. Many CPCs are state-funded.
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HB 633 would require physicians to have this meeting with patients 24 hours before the abortion is performed. The measure would also ban physicians from relaying the information remotely, such as over the phone or otherwise.
“A mandatory delay is not something that should be imposed on a woman, because there are lots and lots of procedures, as we know, that happen every day with doctors and there is not a single instance in Florida law or in this country where someone is required to wait, other than having an abortion,” state Rep. Kristin Jacobs said (D) in a statement.
The measure, introduced this year by state Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R), passed through the Health Quality Subcommittee in a 9-4 vote. It will need to pass through two more committees before a full house vote.
A similar bill was introduced in the Florida state legislature several years ago, but failed to pass the state senate. This year, the legislature is Republican-dominated, with the GOP holding a 25-14 majority in the senate.
An identical bill, SB 724, was introduced in the state senate this year, but has not moved through committee.