Florida senator files bill that would outlaw abortions 20 weeks into pregnancy


On Monday, in an attempted rebuff of the New York legislation allowing abortions beyond 24 weeks if a mother's health is at risk, state Sen. Joe Gruters filed a bill that would ban the procedure after 20 weeks in Florida.

The bill – the "Florida Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" – would scale back current Florida law, which allows for abortions to be performed until roughly 24 weeks into term. The legislation mimics Gruters' first bill filed to the state House two years ago, which ultimately failed. 

"The science is now very clear that unborn children over 20 weeks in the womb can feel pain as any other human can," Gruters, R-Sarasota, told the website Florida Politics, without citing any scientific study.

Gruters added: "That's why fetal anesthesia is routinely administered when surgery is performed on unborn children, and why stopping such cruel, ruthless procedures as poisoning and dismemberment on a human that feels pain and recoils from it is morally necessary."
The only exception to the 20-week standard laid out in the legislation is if a mother's life is at risk, although the bill noted that it must be due to a mother's physical health concerns, not her mental health.

"Once again, we see politicians insert themselves in the most private and personal medical decisions best left between a woman in consultation with her doctor, her family and her faith," state Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, a former local Planned Parenthood official, told Orlando Weekly. "Twenty-week abortion bans are unconstitutional attempts by opponents of safe and legal abortion to impose restrictions on access to abortion."

Eskamani noted that these type of bans also "ignore real world problems," such as the fact that women with cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and other seizure disorders, or high blood pressure may face complications at or past 20 weeks that can seriously jeopardize their health.

"Only 1 percent of women have abortions after 20 weeks," Eskamani noted.

Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill allowing abortions at any time during pregnancy if a mother's health is at risk.

Gruters called this "radical."

"Late term abortion is an assault on basic human decency to other humans. It is now legal in New York up to the point of the baby exiting the birth canal," Gruter said. "Ironically, murders and child rapists have more protections in New York without a death penalty."

We've reached out to Gruters for further comment.

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