Florida becomes latest state to propose ban on abortions after 20 weeks

Florida became one of the latest states to introduce a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. | Pixabay/widephish

Florida has become the latest state to introduce a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the period when fetuses are said to be capable of feeling pain.

The bill, known as the Florida Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, was sponsored by Sarasota state Rep. Joe Gruters and state Sen. Greg Steube.

"I just can't imagine a baby having to feel pain and going through this. This is an issue that I feel passionately about." Gruters told the Gainesville Sun.

The current law in Florida bans abortions in the third trimester of pregnancy or after 24 weeks.

The proposal came after a similar legislation was passed in Ohio and Kentucky.

The bill would make it a third-degree felony to conduct an abortion after 20 weeks, except in cases when the mother's health is at risk, Mother Jones reported. It would also require doctors to report every abortion to the state's health department, and it has a provision that would allow parents to sue their abortion providers for actual or punitive damages.

Florida lawmakers have debated a similar bill in 2011, but it was stalled. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who identifies as pro-life, has not publicly stated whether he would support the bill, but he has approved other restrictions on later abortions in the past.

Nebraska was the first to pass the 20-week ban in 2010. Since that time, the measure has been passed into law in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Pro-abortion advocates have challenged the legislation in several states, including North Carolina and Georgia.

The Florida proposal includes a provision to establish a legal fund to pay for the state attorney general's defense against challenges to the bill.

According to Life News, the bill has gained widespread public support. A poll conducted by inc./WomanTrend indicated that almost 64 percent are in favor of the legislation while only 28 percent were opposed to it.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a similar legislation in 2015, but the bill was stalled in the Senate.

Signing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act into law was one of the promises made by President-elect Donald Trump during the campaign period.