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Abortion Bill Heads to Senate Vote

The Senate Rules Committee on Monday narrowly approved a bill that could prohibit certain abortions now legal in Florida, sending the measure to the full Senate.

The committee supported, in a 6-5 party-line vote, a proposal (SB 918) by Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores that is intended to prevent abortions after fetuses reach the point of "viability." Flores said the bill won't hinder a woman's ability to get an abortion in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.

But Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, said the measure "clearly erodes" a women's right to choose, imposes a legislative judgment on individual decisions regarding family and faith, and fails to address cases of rape, incest or human trafficking.

Under current law, abortions in most cases are barred during the third trimester of pregnancy. But the bill would require that physicians conduct examinations before performing abortions to determine if fetuses are viable.

If viability is reached, abortions would generally not be allowed -- a change that the bill's supporters say could prevent abortions around the 20th week of pregnancy. The House version (HB 1047) of the bill was approved April 11 in a 70-45 vote.

A Senate calendar published late Monday indicates Flores' bill could be heard on the Senate floor as soon as Thursday.

Also, Tallahassee today will be packed with top gubernatorial candidates.

Gearing up for a fierce gubernatorial campaign this year, Democratic candidate Charlie Crist is scheduled to appear Tuesday at a luncheon just a few blocks from the Capitol.

Meanwhile, incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott will lead a state Cabinet meeting before making an appearance at the Old Capitol to welcome sexual-abuse survivor Lauren Book as she completes a 1,500-mile walk across the state.

Crist, who was elected governor in 2006 as a Republican but later left the party, is slated to be the featured speaker at a meeting of the Capital Tiger Bay Club at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. Scott will head the Cabinet meeting, which starts at 9 a.m., and then is expected to attend a rally that is part of Book's arrival.

The other prominent Democrat in the race, former Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, will speak at a fund-raising event Tuesday in Stuart for the Martin County Democratic Party.

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