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Florida House approves ban on abortions of fetuses with disabilities

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida House on Friday approved a ban on what some lawmakers are calling “disability abortions.”

If the bill becomes law, doctors would face a felony charge for carrying out an abortion that solely because a fetus was diagnosed with either a physical or mental disability.

Lawmakers spent two hours debating the measure, with supporters calling the policy a way of fighting what they view as modern-day eugenics.

“The Nazis had a phrase for this: they called it life unworthy of life,” State Rep. Tyler Sirois said.

Critics of the legislature say such a ban is simply unconstitutional.

“This government has no business in a physician-patient relationship,” State Rep. Geraldine Thompson said.

Some House Democrats shared personal anecdotes about being faced with pregnancy complications.

“If this law passed, I may have not been able to make that decision,” said State Rep. Robin Bartleman. “That was my decision.”

Republicans countered with personal testimony of what can happen when a pregnancy is carried to term.

“I was one of the first babies to survive the surgery, thereby allowing for many more children with the same or similar deformities to survive as I had,” State Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff said.

The House bill faces a brick wall in the Senate, which hasn’t even scheduled it for a single hearing.

State Rep. Fentrice Driskell hopes it stays that way.

“It’s my understanding that there hasn’t been much an appetite for this bill over in the Senate,” Driskell said. “So I don’t think we will see this one on the governor’s desk. I also just think that it’s so out of touch with the reality of so many Floridians.”

But proposals like this have a habit of sticking around. The parental consent bill was passed by the House multiple years in a row before finally making it through the Senate.

The parental consent law was also called unconstitutional by Democrats, although no legal challenges have been brought forward since Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it into law last year.