House backs ban on ‘disability’ abortion

Rep. Erin Grall

NSF Staff Report

After an often-emotional debate, the Florida House overwhelmingly passed a bill that would prevent doctors from performing abortions that women seek because of tests showing that fetuses will have disabilities.

The Republican-controlled House last Friday voted 74-44, largely along party lines, to approve the bill (HB 1221), sponsored by Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach.

The bill addresses what it describes as “disability abortions,” which would involve situations in which physicians know pregnant women are seeking abortions because fetuses will have disabilities. Such disabilities could include such things as physical disabilities, intellectual or mental disabilities or Down syndrome. 

A week before the legislative session ended, the Senate did not move forward with such a bill — making it unlikely that a measure will ultimately pass. 

But Grall’s bill drew heavy debate. 

“We have a duty to protect innocent life,” said Rep. Clay Yarborough, a Jacksonville Republican who supported the bill. But Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton, said the bill was about banning abortions.

“A ban is a ban is a ban is a ban,” she said. “Abortion is health care, abortion is health care, abortion is health care.” 

Republicans Mike Caruso of Delray Beach, Sam Killebrew of Winter Haven and Rene Plasencia of Orlando joined Democrats in opposing the bill. Miami Democrat James Bush voted for it.