Rep. Robin Bartleman, whose second pregnancy ended in tragedy, tells Florida lawmakers that they have no right to intervene in confidential decisions about the birth or abortion of a disabled fetus. Screenshot: The Florida Canal
A woman with a fetus diagnosed with a genetic disorder is not allowed to terminate the pregnancy under a Republican-backed law approved in the GOP-controlled Florida House of Representatives on Friday.
Democrats denounced the plan, saying it would allow the government to usurp an intimate decision from such a woman and predicted that it would be unconstitutional on legal challenges that are sure to come.
The proposal, House Bill 1221, sponsored by Rep. Erin Grall and 12 other House Republicans, would prohibit a physician from performing an abortion if he or she knows or should know that the patient has terminated the pregnancy “solely on the basis of: a Test result or diagnosis ”showing that the fetus has a genetically inherited disability.
Failure to do so would subject the doctor to a third degree offense, punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $ 5,000.
It defines these as physical disfigurement, scoliosis, dwarfism, Down syndrome, albinism, Amelie, or a physical or mental illness.
The ban would not apply if the pregnancy endangered the woman’s life.
The House bill, passed between 74 and 44 against the Democratic opposition, has no counterpart in the Florida Senate, but could still be included in that chamber if it so chooses. Next week is the last week of the regular legislature.
“All life is always important. We have a duty to protect innocent lives, ”said Rep. Clay Yarborough, a Duval County Republican who cited scriptures in support of the law.
MP Grall said it was wrong to make decisions about the future quality of life of a fetus regardless of medical indications.
“We will not hear from the boys and girls who are never given the opportunity to determine whether their quality of life is adequate or not, and that is what I ask you to stand up for today,” said Grall, a Republican who represents parts of Indian counties River and St. Lucie.
Rep. Robin Bartleman, special education teacher and mother of two, shivered and shed tears as she described her tragic second pregnancy on the floor of the house.
She said that she and her husband were informed that the fetus she was carrying was badly deformed and they should consider aborting. Before they made a decision, the fetus died in the womb. Bartleman, a Democrat from Broward County, pleaded with the House of Representatives not to play a legal role in this agonizing decision.
“That was my decision. That was my husband’s decision. That was a pregnancy that we prayed for, worked for, and had hormone treatment for. Don’t fit in with my family’s decision, ”said Bartleman, visibly trembling. “This was such a personal, personal, personal decision. Please stay away from our decisions. None of us want our children to be in pain. “
Rep. Allison Tant, mother of a severely disabled adult child, said her family have the resources to face the lifelong challenges and costs of caring for their son, but many families don’t.
“It’s about helping these families,” said Aunt. “I was determined to have this baby or to die trying. Every family must have the right to make their own choice. “
Volusia County Republican MP Elizabeth Fetterhoff said she herself may have been canceled because of birth defects diagnosed in the uterus, but her mother refused. She survived the groundbreaking surgery after she was born at Shands Hospital, University of Florida, she said.
“She chose life, and I stand before you today, a member of the Florida House of Representatives who represents my district and works to provide the best quality of life for all Floridians, including people with disabilities,” said Fetterhoff.
While the law prohibits abortion from disabilities, the bill requires the state to provide educational information about prenatal genetic disorders and resources available to families with disabled children. and requires a physician ordering or administering a prenatal screening or diagnostic test to provide this information to the patient if the test results indicate a genetic disorder.
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