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Vote on controversial abortion bill delayed in Senate


 A vote on a controversial proposal that would outlaw abortions in Florida any time a doctor determined a fetus was viable was postponed indefinitely Wednesday.

Sponsor Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said she asked to delay a vote on Senate Bill 918 because she started receiving calls from the pro-life community that indicated the proposal was being misinterpreted. She said she plans to work with these groups to make sure they understand the bill is intended to further limit abortions prior to the third trimester and expects the bill will be put on the agenda for next week's Health Policy Committee meeting.

The proposal requires doctors to perform medical examinations, including ultrasounds, on pregnant women who seek abortions to determine viability. If the doctor rules the fetus is viable -- defined as the stage of development where the life of a fetus could be sustained outside of the womb -- then an abortion can only be carried out if the woman's life is at risk or she faces serious risk of injury.

Similar restrictions are added to the state's existing ban on third-trimester abortions and there is also the requirement of a second doctor's opinion before the exception is granted.

A "temporary postponement" means the bill could be brought back to the committee any time -- there will be at least two more meetings during the 2014 session -- or never again.

Health Policy is the first of three committee stops for SB 918. A similar proposal filed in the House and sponsored by Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, has not been heard in committee.