Sarasota News Leader

03/15/2013

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Sarasota News Leader March 15, 2013 OPINION duced by Sen. Greg Evers, and the companion bill in the House, HB 395, introduced by Rep. Charles Van Zant. These seek to outlaw abortion of any kind in the state of Florida, with no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape, incest or other sexual assault. Very limited exceptions exist for the life of the mother or other narrowly defined medical emergencies, quite similar to the narrowly defined restrictions in Ireland that recently resulted in the death of a pregnant physician who had developed septicemia. Page 64 ing it a crime to perform an abortion if the patient's motivation is based on race or gender of the fetus. These misguided bills attempt to create the myth that abortions are routinely sought for the purpose of gender selection and foster the eristic view that abortions are a form of racial genocide. While gender selection is practiced elsewhere in the world, the World Health Organization, in concert with other human rights organizations, has stated that "... curtailing abortion access is not a legitimate means of addressDisregarding the constitutional right that ing sex selection, and that gender bias can be American women have to safe, legal abor- resolved only by addressing the underlying tions — a right upheld by the United States conditions that lead to it." Supreme Court — these bills insert the igno- It is also ironic that the Legislature's obvious rant opinions and beliefs of legislators into patriarchal bias creates the very "premium" complex medical decisions that are best left on male offspring that has led to gender seto trained professionals. lection in other countries. It is ironic that the same legislators who pass laws outlawing the practice of medicine by untrained and unlicensed persons seem so intent on defying their own proscriptions. But then, the Legislature has consistently exempted itself from laws and regulations binding upon all other people in the state (e.g., ethical practices). Another pair of bills — SB 876 and HB 759 — has the apparently well-intentioned effect of making it a crime to destroy a fetus in the commission of another crime. But, unlike the so-called "fetal homicide" laws adopted in other states, these bills seek to define human personhood as occurring at conception, thus criminalizing the destruction of a fertilized egg — equating the act with the killing of an In that vein, two other bills — SB 1072 and HB adult. 845, also introduced by Evers and Van Zant — seek to turn doctors into criminal investiga- Similar "personhood" initiatives have failed in tors and their patients into suspects by mak- other states, including Mississippi. However,

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