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Tougher abortion restrictions headed to Gov. Rick Scott's desk


Florida women seeking abortions will face tougher restrictions and a tighter time frame under a measure that is headed to Gov. Rick Scott's desk.

Amid partisan debate about reproductive rights echoing similar battles in other Republican-controlled states, the Senate approved House Bill 1047 on Friday, two weeks after it won approval in the lower chamber.

The proposal would ban most abortions in Florida once a doctor determines a fetus could survive outside the womb. That point can vary depending on numerous factors. On average, a fetus is usually considered viable at around 23 weeks of gestation, roughly two weeks before the start of the third trimester of pregnancy, Florida's current cutoff for elective abortions.

The new proposal allows exceptions, only with written certification by two physicians, if abortion is needed to save the mother's life or prevent serious physical injury to her. Current law also allows third-trimester abortions to protect the mother's emotional health, which the new plan does not permit.

Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, said the measure won't end abortions but will require a woman to make the decision earlier.

"If she's going to make that choice, make that choice before the baby is able to live on its own outside of the womb," Stargel said.

Read more here.