TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - A proposal heading for a vote in the Florida House would ban an abortion procedure known as "dismemberment abortion."
Women's rights advocates say the measure would limit a woman's right to choose, but supporters say the procedure causes unnecessary suffering to the fetus.
In 2016, nearly 70,000 abortions were performed in the state. Roughly four percent were dismemberment abortions.
In a committee hearing, retired OBGYN Kathi Aultman told members performing the procedure changed her mind on abortion.
"Eventually I guess your conscience comes through," she explained.
Just one opponent testified, saying members have treated pro-choice advocates poorly in prior hearings.
"This shaming of women is a perfect example of why I'll be the only one testifying," Barbara DeVane with the National Organization for Women said.
Afterward, opponents held a press conference outside the House Office building.
Jasmen Rogers with the Miami Worker's Center says the bill would limit a woman's right to choose, particularly for minority women.
"Abortion is oftentimes the only form of contraception we can use," she said.
Sponsor Representative Erin Grall says the procedure, if performed humanely, would still be allowed.
"[Doctors would be] giving the injection to cause fetal demise before the abortion is performed, the dismemberment is performed, and it merely requires that additional step," Representative Grall explained.
Eight states have banned the procedure, but in six of those states, legal challenges have prevented the bans from taking effect.
"If a woman needs it and has made that painful decision to do so, it is her right to do so," argued Representative Amy Mercado.
The bill hasn't been heard by the Senate, but the legislation could be used as a bargaining tool as the legislative session moves forward.
The legislation would make it a third-degree felony for a doctor to perform the procedure.