More than a dozen amendments to Florida’s proposed 15-week abortion ban were filed Tuesday in its latest visit to a Senate committee, WFLA reports.
Among the proposed legislative add-ons were a requirement for fathers to start paying child support at 15 weeks. If abortions are banned at 15 weeks of gestation, the amendment proposed in the Florida Senate by Tina Scott Polsky, D-Palm Beach, would require the father of the child to start paying child support as soon as abortions are no longer legal.
The amendment, as written, would include health insurance coverage for the mother and child, as well as for the duration of pregnancy and any related postpartum care needs after the child is born.
In cases where the paternity of an unborn child is contested, the court would have to wait to enforce child support payments until the biological father has been confirmed. Payments would then be required, to include retroactive payments to the date 15 weeks of pregnancy were reached.
Sticking to health insurance, an amendment filed by state senator Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, would make women who may become pregnant eligible for Medicaid coverage. The senator said it could help as many as 700,000 Floridians.
“This amendment would provide healthcare coverage to more than 700,000 Floridians and save working families hundreds of millions of dollars,” Cruz said.
Going back to a legislative focus on the fathers of unborn children, one amendment from Annette Taddeo, D-Miami-Dade, would require that a man cannot receive a vasectomy until two physicians have certified in writing that he has received counseling about the procedure, and that the vasectomy “will prevent future life from being created.”
Other amendments filed by Sens. Lauren Book, D-Broward, and Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, to the Committee Substitute for Florida’s proposed 15-week abortion ban focused on adding abortion options for those who were victims of rape, incest, or human trafficking, or for pregnant minors seeking judicial waivers for an abortion. Previous attempts to add these amendments in House floor debates have failed.
Additionally, an amendment filed by Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach, would require the Florida Department of Health to create a fund to pay for expenses related to caring for children born with fetal abnormalities and for an “increase in the number of children entering the foster care system.” If the amendment passes along with the abortion ban, FDOH would have to allocate 50% of appropriated funding for pregnancy support and wellness services to foster care and fetal abnormality funding. The department of health would also be required to adopt rules to administer the fund.
Another amendment by Berman would require health education curriculum for middle and high school students to be comprehensive sexual education, rather than abstinence-only sex-ed. The amendment would require that the curriculum be “medically accurate and developmentally appropriate” while still including “an awareness of the benefits of sexual abstinence.”
The amendment said the comprehensive education guidelines would have to be in line with current best practices and policies of the federal system, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
An amendment filed by Loranne Ausley, D-Tallahassee, during the latest Senate session would require the Department of Health to perform a racial impact study by the fetal and infant mortality review committees. The study would have to include “a comprehensive review of existing literature on fetal and infant mortality disparities,” to determine what factors related to high fetal and infant mortality rates among minorities.
Additionally, the amendment would require a racial impact study on maternal mortality rates, to include a comprehensive review of existing literature on the racial disparities in maternity deaths, to find ways to address the “disproportionately high rates of maternal mortality among minority populations” and how to fix these disparities.
The 15-week abortion ban will return to the Senate for a question and answer session and debate on the amendments on Wednesday. Next, it will go to a full floor vote. The abortion ban has already cleared the legislative hurdles of the House chamber.