Florida bill would prohibit disability abortions

Identical bills filed in Florida would prohibit the practice of “disability abortions”. If the bills pass, a physician who performs or induces a disability abortion could potentially be prosecuted, though the women the abortion is performed on would be immune from punishment.

Representative Erin Grall filed HB 1221 on Tuesday. Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez presented the identical SB 1664 on Thursday.

The bill defines disability abortion as an abortion a woman is seeking out solely because she knows her baby may be born with a disability. The disabilities listed in the bill are any physical disability, physical disfigurements, down syndrome, scoliosis, dwarfism, albinism, amelia or a physical or mental disease.

Women who have to terminate their pregnancy due to potential danger in giving birth will receive an exception under the law.

Under the law, a physician performing a disability abortion will be charged with a third-degree felony. If the woman dies during the abortion then the physician will be charged with a second-degree felony.   

The bill has detractors. Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, told State of Reform:

“This bill is about restricting abortion, not protecting those with disabilities. This is not a policy that is being promoted by disability rights groups. This is another attempt to insert politics where it doesn’t belong — into the most sensitive situations between a patient and their doctor.

The Florida Legislature has and will try anything to eliminate access to abortion in our state and this inflammatory bill only makes that more clear. This is just one more unconstitutional abortion ban being proposed in Florida.”

This is the second bill Sen. Rodriguez has filed this year that would adjust the threshold to receive a legal abortion in the state of Florida. In January, she filed SB 744, a bill that would prohibit an abortion of any unborn child that is determined to be able to feel pain.

Goodhue continued:

“What’s worse, this could lead to costly litigation. This Legislature should be focused on the devastating health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, not another abortion restriction that will result in the state having to spend our tax dollars to try to defend the law in court.”

Currently in Florida a woman can receive an abortion at any point in the first two trimesters. They are allowed to receive an abortion in the third trimester if they receive a medical exception.

While the amount of abortions being performed across the country has decreased across the country, there has been a slight uptick in abortions being performed in Florida in recent years.