*Editor’s note. This article has been updated to clarify the meaning of medical abortions.
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — At the start of the 2022 Florida legislative session, Lakeland Republican Kelli Stargel filed legislation that would mimic an abortion bill filed in Mississippi, currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
State Sen. Stargel’s bill, Senate Bill 146, would add a provision to the Florida Statutes to ban abortions after a fetus has reached 15 weeks of gestational age. The law also defines two forms of abortion, surgical and medical abortion, to mean an abortion caused by a pharmaceutical.
In particular, the proposed legislation would bar physicians from performing “a termination of pregnancy if the physician determines the gestational age of the fetus is more than 15 weeks,” though it does provide an exception in cases where a fetus “has a fatal fetal abnormality” that prevents it from achieving viability.
To meet this exception, two physicians must certify in writing that in their “reasonable medical judgment,” the fetus would not survive.
Additionally, the proposed law sets standards for where and how abortions are performed. Medical facilities that perform abortions must submit monthly reports to the Florida Department of Health. If an abortion is performed at a non-medical facility, the physician performing the operation must submit a monthly report. The monthly reports must meet standards “consistent with the United States Standard Report of Induced Termination of Pregnancy adopted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
The reports required by the law would have to include reasons for why the abortion was performed, and be sent to the state’s Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine. Reasons for why an abortion was performed are included in the proposed law as:
- If the woman has provided evidence that she is a victim of human trafficking
- The period of gestation at the time the abortion was performed
- The number of infants born alive or alive immediately after an attempted abortion
- The number of drug regimens dispensed or prescribed for a medical abortion
Notably, the law does not provide exceptions to abortion restrictions for incest or rape, though in previous comments, outgoing Senate President Wilton Simpson had noted previous Florida laws do contain those exceptions.
The law, if passed, also creates a new section in the Florida Statutes, creating “Birthing quality initiatives.”
Under the proposed law, hospitals that provide birthing services shall at all times be participants in “at least two quality improvement initiatives developed in collaboration with the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative within the University of South Florida College of Public Health.”
The law also proposes a partnership between the Dept. of Health and “local healthy start coalitions for the creation of fetal and infant mortality review committees” across the state. The committees would review and analyze rates, trends, causes and data for infant mortality and morbidity in each geographic area.
The committees, when created, would also “develop findings and recommendations for interventions and policy changes to reduce fetal and infant mortality and morbidity rates,” as well as work with local communities and stakeholders to enact policies and procedures to reduce fetal and infant death.
The local healthy start coalitions would have to report their findings and recommendations to FDOH annually, and the department would have to compile those findings beginning Oct. 1, 2023 in an annual report to be sent to the Governor, President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives. The reports would have to be submitted by Jan. 31 each year.
Beginning in the 2022 to 2023 fiscal year, SB 146 would set aside $260,000 in recurring funds from the state’s General Revenue fund to pay FDOH for establishing fetal and infant mortality review committees in parts of the state that no such state-funded committee exists. The law also includes proposed efforts to combat smoking among expectant mothers.
Correction: This article originally referred to Plan B when discussing pharmaceuticals used for medical abortions. This reference has been removed because Plan B does not actually cause medical abortions and just preventions conception.