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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Mar. 6, 201212:00 PM EST

Abortion bill stalls in Senate

by: Michael Peltier

A measure requiring women to wait 24 hours before receiving an abortion stalled Monday in the Florida Senate, virtually ending the possibility of its passage before lawmakers adjourn later this week.

Without debate, a procedural vote to bring the always emotionally charged issue to the floor by pulling the bill out of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee failed on a 23-16 vote, less than the two-thirds needed in the 40-member chamber. The failure makes the issue unavailable for further debate.

Minutes after the vote, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said the issue was settled and would not return.

“Given the mood — the Senate chamber — they felt like with all the pressing issues … that this might take a little bit too much time, though it’s something that I would happen to support, as I showed by my vote today. There are some folks who are in the pro-choice caucus within my Republican caucus who didn’t want to vote for this,” Haridopolos told reporters.

“I think that (procedural) vote expressed where people are at,” he said.

“I think it was a pretty definitive vote,” said Senate Rules Committee Chairman John Thrasher (R-St. Augustine).

Last week, the Florida House passed its version of the bill (HB 277), which would make women wait 24 hours after seeing a physician before an abortion could be performed. Patients also would have to be informed that a fetus feels pain at 20 weeks, an assertion that has been prompted debate in the scientific community.

Further, the bill would require doctors who perform the procedure to take yearly ethics course as part of their continuing education.

Over the past few years, Florida lawmakers have passed a series of bills seeking to make it more difficult to get an abortion, though many of their efforts have been challenged in court.

Following lengthy, at times emotional debate, the House last week voted 78-33, largely along party lines, to approve the bill, which also would require new abortion clinics to be owned by doctors and prohibit an abortion if the physician has determined the fetus has reached “viability.”

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