A Florida legislative hearing made national news in 2013 when a Planned Parenthood representative opposed a measure providing that an infant born alive during or immediately after an attempted abortion is entitled to the same rights, powers, and privileges as any other child born alive. That representative testified that the decision whether such a baby lives should be left to the woman, her family, and her physician. With AUL’s assistance, the state went on to enact a law protecting all children born alive.
- The Florida Supreme Court has determined that the state constitution provides a broader right to abortion than does the U.S. Constitution. Under the auspices of this decision, Florida courts have struck down prior versions of the state’s informed consent and parental involvement laws.
- Prior to an abortion, Florida requires that a woman receive oral, in-person counseling regarding the nature and medical risks of abortion, this risk of continued pregnancy, and the gestational age of the unborn child. She must also receive printed materials discussing pregnancy services and abortion alternatives, providing description of the unborn child, and discussing available medical benefits.
- Florida requires that an ultrasound be performed and that the ultrasound be reviewed with the woman before she gives her informed consent for the abortion.
- Florida requires that an ultrasound be performed and that the ultrasound be reviewed with the woman before she gives her consent for the abortion.
- Florida requires that notice be given in person, by telephone, or by mail to one parent at least 48 hours prior to an abortion on a minor aged 17-years old or younger, unless there is a medical emergency or the minor obtains a court order. Parents must be notified about an emergency abortion within 24 hours of the procedure.
- Florida law provides patient care standards for facilities performing abortions after the first trimester.
- Only physicians licensed by the State of Florida in medicine or osteopathy or those physicians practicing medicine or osteopathy and employed by the United States may perform abortions.
- Florida has an enforceable abortion reporting law, but does not require the reporting of information to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The measure requires abortion providers to report short-term complications only for post-first trimester abortions.
- Florida follows the federal standard for Medicaid funding for abortions, permitting the use of federal or state matching Medicaid funds for abortions necessary to preserve the life of the woman or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
- Florida prohibits insurance plans that cover abortions (except in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest) from receiving federal or state subsidies through a health insurance Exchange established pursuant to the federal healthcare law.
- Florida provides direct funding to pregnancy resource centers including faith-based centers.
- Florida also offers “Choose Life” license plates, the proceeds of which benefit pregnancy resource centers and/or other organizations providing abortion alternatives.
Legal Recognition and Protection of Unborn and Newly Born:
- Under Florida criminal law, the killing of an unborn child after “quickening” (discernible movement in the womb) is considered manslaughter. A person causing the death of an “unborn quick child” may be charged with the same level of offense as would be charged if the conduct had caused the death of the pregnant woman and may be charged with two offenses if both the pregnant woman and the unborn quick child are killed.
- The state allows a wrongful death (civil) action only when an unborn child is born alive following a negligent or criminal act and dies thereafter.
- An infant born alive during or immediately after an attempted abortion is entitled to the same rights, powers, and privileges as any other child born alive in the course of natural birth. Healthcare providers must take reasonable and medically appropriate measures to preserve the life and health of born-alive infants.
- Florida has enacted a “Baby Moses” law under which a mother or legal guardian who is unable to care for a newborn infant may anonymously and safely leave the infant in the care of a responsible person at a hospital, police station, fire station, or other prescribed location.
- The state defines substance abuse during pregnancy as “child abuse” under civil child-welfare statutes and funds drug treatment programs for pregnant women and newborns.
- Florida does not ban human cloning or destructive embryo research, and its ban on fetal experimentation applies only to a live child (and not to an aborted fetus).
- Florida maintains a “Public Cord Blood Tissue Bank” to collect, screen for infectious and genetic diseases, perform tissue tubing, cryopreserve, and store umbilical cord blood. Women admitted to a hospital or birthing facility may be offered the opportunity to donate umbilical cord blood to the Bank (which is a public resource).
- In regard to human egg harvesting, only “reasonable compensation” directly related to the donation of eggs is permitted.
- Florida regulates assisted reproductive technologies and includes “embryo adoption” in a statutory list of “fertility techniques.”
End of Life Laws:
- In Florida, assisted suicide is considered manslaughter.
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
Participation in Abortion and Contraception:
- Under Florida law, a hospital staff member, person associated with or employed by a hospital, or physician’s employee, who objects on religious or moral grounds, is not required to participate in any medical procedure that results in an abortion.
- Certain individuals, such as physicians, may refuse to furnish any contraceptive or family planning service, supplies, or information based on religious reasons.
- Hospitals are not required to perform abortions.
Participation in Research Harmful to Human Life:
- Florida does not expressly protect the rights of conscience of all healthcare providers who conscientiously object to participation in procedures other than abortion, such as destructive embryo research and human cloning.
What Happened in 2013:
- With assistance from AUL, Florida enacted a measure providing that an infant born alive during or immediately after an attempted abortion is entitled to the same rights, powers, and privileges as any other child born alive in the course of natural birth and requiring healthcare providers to take reasonable and medically appropriate measures to preserve the life and health of born-alive infants.
- Florida considered legislation prohibiting sex-selection abortions, regulating abortion clinics, requiring abortion providers to meet certain qualifications, strenghtening informed consent requirements, and relating to insurance coverage of abortion.
- Florida also considered measures related to advance planning documents, pain management, and palliative care.
Recommendations for Florida
Women’s Protection Project Priorities:
- Women’s Health Defense Act (5-month abortion limitation)
- Reflection period for abortion
- Women’s Health Protection Act (including regulation of facilities providing first-trimester abortions)
- Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act
- Parental Consent for Abortion Act
- Parental Involvement Enhancement Act
- Child Protection Act
- State Constitutional Amendment (providing that there is no state constitutional right to abortion)
- Defunding the Abortion Industry and Advancing Women’s Health Act
- Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act
- Joint Resolution Commending Pregnancy Resource Centers
Legal Recognition and Protection for the Unborn:
- Crimes Against the Unborn Child Act (protecting a child from conception)
- Unborn Wrongful Death Act
- Born-Alive Infant Protection Act
- Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act
- Human Cloning Prohibition Act
- Destructive Embryo Research Act
- Prohibition on Public Funding of Human Cloning and Destructive Embryo Research Act
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
- Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act