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Gov. Scott praises legislators advancing abortion-related bill

Gov. Rick Scott issued a statement Tuesday praising legislators for unanimously passing a Senate bill that would “ensure common sense measures to help care for the babies who survive abortion procedures.”

 The 9-0 vote advances Senate Bill 1636, sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, which would require health practitioners to offer emergency medical care to a baby born alive or face a first-degree misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to a year in jail.

While the measure is known as an abortion bill, the proposed law focuses on what happens after the procedure, one reason it hasn't drawn the ire of prochoice groups and legislators. Planned Parenthood dropped its opposition after a provision that would have stripped a mother seeking an abortion of parental rights was eliminated from the bill by both Flores and Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, in the House version.

While no one spoke in opposition to the bill, Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Life Action, said "the tragedy of infants born alive following an attempted abortions is real and it is not a hypothetical."

She cited two cases in Florida where infants were born after an attempted abortion. One was a 2006 case in which a teenager said that she gave birth to a baby in a Hialeah abortion clinic, and accused one of the clinic owners of putting the baby girl in a bag and throwing her away. Charges were dropped against the owner, though a physician lost his medical license. Another involved an Orlando clinic, where a woman gave birth after an attempted abortion in 2001, but the one-pound, 3 1/2-ounce infant survived.

Yoest said that 25 states have passed similar legislation.

 In his statement, Scott also said "It is essential that we protect the weakest among us, and I am grateful for the Senators and Representatives in both parties who are supporting care for these babies.” The bill has two more committee stops in the Senate and is ready for the House floor.