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House passes abortion bill as Senate version stalls

As expected, the House passed a broad abortion proposal (HB 277) reviled by Planned Parenthood advocates by a 78-33 vote on Thursday.

We told you about the chamber's late-night Q&A on the measure Wednesday. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, imposes a 24-hour waiting period for the procedure, adds restrictions on the ownership of new abortion clinics, a requirement that physicians who perform the procedure undergo yearly ethics training, and makes the state report demographic information about each abortion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"At the end of the day, this bill is about one thing and one thing only, and that is life," said Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, R-Miami.

Speaking to Burgin, Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood, said, "You've done a masterful job of defending something that I truly think if indefensible."

Meanwhile, the companion bill pushed by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, has passed just one committee. Flores said she has asked Sen. Greg Evers, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, to withdraw it so it can be debated on the floor without fulfilling all committee stops. But Senate President Mike Haridopolos said he needed to talk to members to "get a feel from the body of where they're at."

"Last year was a tremendous year for pro-life advocates like myself," he said. "If I believe we have the time to dedicate to that issue, I'm willing to take a second look but at this point I believe it's still at the second committee of reference."

A similar version of the bill passed the House last year but died in the Senate.