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House passes two abortion-related bills after heated exchanges

Following hours of fiery debate that included accusations of female infanticide and eugenics, the House passed a bill that would ban abortions based on sex or gender by 71-44 on Thursday.

It was the third successful abortion bill to pass the House in two days.

House Bill 845, sponsored by Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, would require a doctor to sign an affidavit that a woman is not seeking an abortion based on sex or gender. A person who performs, or actively participates in a sex/gender abortion can be charged with a third-degree felony; not reporting a sex/gender abortion can also result in a fine up to $10,000.

In his closing statement, Van Zant said the bill is necessary because "race and sex selection abortion is prevalent throughout America, including Florida," though no specific figures were provided.

Van Zant said the bill fights "female infanticide" and ended up leveling accusations against Planned Parenthood and "other abortionists."

"The fact is 80 percent of abortion clinics nationwide are located in minority neighborhoods where 43 percent of all black babies are aborted," Van Zant said.

Planned Parenthood issued a press release stating that Van Zant provided "inaccurate information" and referred to a study by the Guttmacher Institute,a research and advocacy group that collects abortion data. The group reports that one in 10 abortion clinics are in predominantly black neighborhoods.

"In America alone, without the Naxi holocaust, without the Ku Klux clan, Planned Parenthood and other abortionists have reduced our black population by more than 25 percent since 1973," Van Zant continued, adding that Washington funds the "practice of eugenics."

Judith Selzer, Planned Parenthood's vice president for public policy, responded that "Planned Parenthood opposes racism and sexism in all forms" and "condemns sex selection motivated by gender or racial bias."

She said the group "urges leaders to challenge the underlying conditions that lead to these beliefs and practices, including addressing the social, legal, economic, and political conditions that promote gender and racial bias." Instead of "playing politics with women’s health care" legislators should "work toward common sense, compassionate solutions that expand access to care and create stronger, healthier families,” she said.

Rep. Daryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, who is black, said he was "insulted" by supporters using African Americans to advance an abortion bill. "If we wanted to do something about genocide, we could do something in the Department of Corrections, we could do something in the Department of Education, we could do something in those other areas" that might make an impact, he said, instead of turning it into "a prolife" issue.

Another African-American Democrat, Rep. Mia Jones,  of Jacksonville, said the assertion that the bill's backers were fighting discrimination against blacks and women by proposing the bill was “a bald-faced lie.

The Senate version of Van Zant’s bill has not been heard in any Senate committee. Four states prohibit sex-selective abortions, and one of those states also bans race-based abortions.

The other abortion bill passed Thursday, sponsored by Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, would make it a separate crime if a fetus at any age of development is injured or killed during an attack on a pregnant woman.

The bill (HB 759) passed 74-33. Thirty-six states have similar bills.

The true intent of the bill, said Rep. James Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, is to "chip away" at legalized abortion.

By defining in statute that life begins at conception, he said, "that gets applied in other areas of the law."

Rep. Elizabeth Porter, R-Lake City, said an unborn child deserved to be recognized if a crime occurred.

"Do not tell me and do not tell or any of the other women in this room or this state that because they have not given birth to their child yet" that their baby is "inconsequential, unimportant and not their child."

The House passed a bill on Wednesday that would require a physician to offer emergency care if an infant is born alive during an abortion attempt. The state did not pass any abortion laws last year.