Next Up For Crist: Abortion Battle

Ultrasound abortion bill now goes to Charlie Crist

Gov. Charlie Crist, already embroiled in his own political drama, will have the final say on a health bill that included some anti-abortion measures that popped out of the Legislature shortly before Friday's adjournment.

The House passed the broader measure on a 76-44 vote after four hours of emotionally charged debate. Democrats said it was little more than an attempt to persuade women they shouldn't have an abortion. The Senate passed the bill Thursday, also largely along party lines.

"We got shut out of the process," Democrat Rep. Alan Williams said. "Don't waste the ink in our statutes, in our books, for this."
Democrats were upset the most with an amendment added late Wednesday that was not heard in committee and would require women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound exam in the first trimester of the pregnancy and pay for it even if they don't want to see the live image.

Fewer than 10 percent of abortions in Florida occur after the first trimester and ultrasounds are already required for abortions after the first trimester.

Women seeking an abortion would also have to provide legal documentation to prove they were a victim of rape, incest or domestic violence in order to refuse to hear a physician's description of the ultrasound image during the exam.

"It is designed to coerce a woman to change her mind if not scare her away from the doctor's office," said Democrat Rep. Adam Fetterman, of Port St. Lucie.

Democrats immediately looked for a veto from Crist, who had just returned to the Capitol after surrendering his role as the titular head of the Republican Party.

"He has some concern with the bill," Crist spokesman Sterling Ivey said. "(He) wants to review it when it reaches his desk."

The bill also included a provision supporting Attorney General Bill McCollum's lawsuit against the federal government that alleges national health care reforms are unconstitutional.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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