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Abortion bills pass House committee

Two bills seeking to regulate abortions passed through House Health and Human Services committee on Tuesday. One revives the controversial ultrasound bill, which requires a woman to receive an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion and be given the opportunity to review the results.

"This is about the right of a woman considering the termination of a pregnancy to possess all of the relevant information made available to her so she can make a fully informed decision," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Elizabeth Porter, R-Lake City. "Knowledge is never a bad thing."

Opponents, though, say the measure interferes with the doctor/patient relationship and forces doctors to perform a procedure that may not be medically necessary. Both the ACLU and Planned Parenthood oppose the bill.

"The decision whether to perform an ultrasound should rest with the physician caring for the woman," said Stephanie Kunkel of Planned Parenthood.

A similar measure passed both the House and Senate last year, but then Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed it (which Rep. Matt Hudson said showed Crist was more devoid of principles than any human being he's ever met). Gov. Rick Scott said on the campaign trail that he would have signed the bill into law.

So now it's back. Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico sponsored a companion bill in the Senate, although it hasn't been scheduled yet for a committee hearing.

Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, called out Republican board members for voting earlier in the day to prohibit laws requiring individuals to have health insurance because it intrudes on the doctor/patient relationship and then supporting the ultrasound bill.

"Is this legislation not practicing an ideology of convenince or are we just being hypocritical?" he asked.

The bill passed with a party-line vote.  The committee also passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, that would limit third-trimester abortions, require doctors performing abortions to receive ethics training and mandate that abortion clinics be owned by physicians. A companion bill filed by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, has not yet been scheduled for a committee hearing.