Bill targets abortions after 20 weeks


A House Republican filed a bill seeking to ban abortions 20 or more weeks after fertilization, with the measure saying it would protect "from abortion an unborn child capable of feeling pain."

The bill (HB 203), filed by Rep. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, will be considered during the legislative session that starts March 7.

Abortion opponents argue that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks, though that assertion is disputed by many abortion-rights supporters.

Dubbed the "Florida Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," Gruters' bill also would place detailed reporting requirements on physicians who perform abortions and would set aside money to pay for legal costs in defending the measure if it becomes law.

A federal judge has struck down key parts of an abortion law passed by the Republican-dominated Legislature in early 2016, and the Florida Supreme Court is considering a challenge to a 2015 law requiring 24-hour waiting periods before women can have abortions.