Redefining Viability for Abortions

By: Matt Galka
By: Matt Galka

State lawmakers are considering a controversial bill that would further restrict a woman's ability to get an abortion.

If the proposal passes, it would not affect the majority of abortions that already take place in Florida. Opposing groups say the legislation would create more gray area.

Florida law doesn't allow women to get abortions after 25 weeks or the third trimester, unless there are special medical circumstances.

Now legislation could create earlier bans.

"The reason that I feel that I'm here, the reason I feel that I was elected and the issues that I feel most excited about as we move forward and we push are issues that are pro life," Sen. Anitere Flores, (R) Miami, said.

The bill redefines fetus viability. Supporters say medical technology can keep a fetus alive earlier on in pregnancy.

"Technology shows us when we believe viability is going to happen," Sen. Andy Gerdiner, (R) Orlando, said.

Advocates opposed to the measure are wondering why the time frame needs to be scaled back at all.

Women can get a third trimester abortion if their health is being put in jeopardy by a pregnancy.

But Department of Health info from 2013 shows that none of the more than 71,000 abortions last year happened after 25 weeks.

That caused senator Arthenia Joyner to vote 'no.'

"Every year - just take away another right, just chip away to the point where women will practically not have the opportunity to have an abortion," Joyner said.

The lack of supportive data for late term abortions doesn't sit well with women's groups.

"We feel very strongly on women's choice. This is a bill that's a solution where there isn't a problem," Linda Miklowitz of Florida Council for Jewish Women said.

The bill would require a physician to determine if a fetus is viable before any abortion.

Viability has no set definition.

It's highly unlikely for a fetus to be considered viable earlier than 20 weeks. Only about 6,000 of the more than 71,000 abortions reported last year occurred in the 13th to 24th week of pregnancy.


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