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Abortion law changes headed to Senate

A controversial proposal requiring a 24-hour wait period and a sonogram before almost all abortions is on its way to the Florida Senate.

The state House this morning voted 71-42 in favor of the provisions, after roughly two hours of contentious debate. Both proposals were added to a bill by Rep. Trey Traviesa, R-Tampa, that would require judges to appoint a guardian for underage girls who want an abortion and seek to get around the state's parental-notification law.

Only women who are victims of rape, incest, domestic violence or human trafficking would be exempt from the sonogram provision thanks to an amendment added this morning by Rep. Denise Grimsley, a Lake Placid Republican.

The House decision comes eight days after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal government ban on a particular kind of late-term abortion, a decision pro-choice activists have said would encourage some states to attempt to nip away at abortion rights.

Supporters say the ultrasound and 24-hour period help women make better medical decisions.

"If you read this bill, it doesn't do anything to take a way a woman's right to choose," said Rep. Kevin Ambler, R-Lutz. "What it does is put a thoughtful deliberative process in place."

But opponents say anti-abortion advocates have hijacked the parental notification bill to add provisions designed to make an already painful decision more difficult.

"I think for us to legislate what goes on in that process for any individual is wrong," said Rep. Curtis Richardson, a Tallahassee Democrat. "It trivializes the process."

The proposal faces rough going in the Senate, where the Senate version by Sen. Ronda Storms, a Valrico Republican, only addresses the parental notification changes. And Senators from both parties have said they are opposed to expanding Storms' bill to encompass the new House provisions.

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