[JURIST] The Florida Senate [official website] approved a bill [press release] Friday that will prevent most abortions after the fetus reaches viability. The legislation would require the doctor to conduct an exam before performing an abortion to determine if the fetus is viable. The bill could reportedly prevent abortions [Florida Times-Union report] as early as the twentieth week of pregnancy. If the bill is signed into law, Florida will join 23 states with similar legislation. The bill will be delivered to Florida Governor Rick Scott [official website] who is expected to sign it into law.
Abortion continues to be a hot-button legal, political and moral issue within the ongoing debate over reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder]. A number of states have proposed laws to make abortions illegal after 20 weeks. This month the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit extended a ruling [JURIST report] blocking new Arizona regulations on the use of abortion drugs. Last month the West Virginia legislature approved a bill [JURIST report] to prohibit abortions later than 20 weeks after conception. In February the Mississippi House approved [JURIST report] a 20-week abortion ban. In January the US Supreme Court declined to rule on Arizona's attempt to revive its 20-week ban on abortions after it was stuck down [JURIST reports] on constitutional grounds by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last May. The US House of Representatives voted [JURIST report] in favor of a federal law banning 20-week abortions in June, but the bill failed [WP report] to gain widespread support in the Democratic-controlled US Senate.