Governor Rick Scott today held a ceremonial bill signing at the Governor's Mansion for four bills that strengthen Florida's pro-life laws. Joining him for the event were legislative sponsors of the bills and John Stemberger, president of Florida Family Council; Dr. Michael McCarron, executive director of Florida Catholic Conference; Pam Olson of the International House of Prayer in Tallahassee; Bill Bunkley, legislative and government affairs consultant to the Florida Baptist Convention; and Jim Styer, president of Sarasota/Manatee Right to Life.
"I am honored today to sign four bills that strengthen Florida's pro-life laws," Governor Scott said. "During my campaign and since I have been Governor, I have made it very clear that I am, and always have been, pro-life."
House Bill 97, Health Insurance, ensures Florida taxpayers are protected from state and federal dollars being used to fund abortions. The bill prohibits health insurance purchased with state or federal funds from covering abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or when the woman is in danger of death.
House Bill 501, Choose Life License Plates, better directs funds from the "Choose Life" specialty license plates to assist pregnant women making an adoption plan for their children. Previously, funds from the license plates were distributed to the government of the county where the funds were collected for distribution to private not-for-profit agencies. The funds will now be directly distributed to Choose Life Inc., and they will be responsible for the management and distribution of the funds.
House Bill 1247, Parental Notice of Abortion, strengthens Florida's Parental Notice of Abortion Act by requiring notice of a minor's abortion to be mailed to the parent or legal guardian via first class mail and certified mail -- return receipt requested -- with delivery restricted to the parent or legal guardian. Provisions are allowed for abortions performed due to a medical emergency..
House Bill 1127, Relating to Abortion, requires that an ultrasound be performed on all women obtaining an abortion. The patient must be offered the opportunity to view the ultrasound images and hear an explanation of them before giving informed consent for the abortion. If the patient declines to view the ultrasound images, she must certify in writing that she has made that decision of her own free will and without undue influence.
Abortion clinics and physicians are also required to provide women seeking abortions with written materials that describe the stages of fetal development. In addition, the bill prohibits abortion providers from offering the opportunity to view the ultrasound images to women who are victims of rape, incest, domestic violence or human trafficking, unless those women specifically make that request.
Legislation with similar ultrasound requirements have been proposed in the past several years by the Florida Legislature. In 2008, the legislation failed to pass, and in 2009, it died in committee. In 2010, legislation was passed but vetoed by Governor Charlie Crist