Charlie Crist Vetoes Bill to Opt Out of Health Care Abortion Funding, for Ultrasound
Tallahassee, FL ( -- Florida Governor Charlie Crist has vetoed a pro-life bill that would both opt the state out of some of the abortion funding in the health care law Obama signed as well as allow women a chance to see an ultrasound before an abortion. Crist hinted at the veto beforehand, so his decision is not unexpected.

Although ultrasounds are routinely done before an abortion, abortion facilities don't always allow women to see them.

State legislators supported the bill to help women obtain more information before making a decision to have an abortion.

The same bill would also make Florida the next state to opt out of at least some of the taxpayer funding of abortion contained in the health care bill President Barack Obama signed into law and have it follow Arizona, Tennessee and Mississippi.

Crist said the legislation "presents an inappropriate burden on women seeking to terminate a pregnancy."

Crist said that while people hold strong opinions on abortion, "personal views should not result in laws that unwisely expand the role of government and coerce people to obtain medical tests or procedures that are not medically necessary."

Yet, a 2008 legislative survey found that, of Florida's 62 licensed abortion businesses, 51 already require ultrasounds before first-trimester abortions.

And Section 390.0111 of the bill, line 512 states: "The woman has a right to decline to view the ultrasound images after she is informed of her right and offered an opportunity to view them."

The Florida Catholic Conference emailed and expressed "extreme disappointment" with the veto because, "This good bill would have had a profoundly positive effect on women and their unborn children, as well as all Floridians."

"This is a sad day for Florida women," said Sheila Hopkins, Associate Director for Social Concerns and the Respect Life office. "Many women have lamented their decision and wish they could have viewed an ultrasound before making a choice that they now deeply regret. Without this bill in place women will continue to make a life-altering decision without the benefit of informed consent."

"As a result of this veto, there is currently no mechanism in place to prevent Floridians' tax dollars from being used to pay for abortions as federal reform is implemented and state exchanges are established," Hopkins added.

Ultrasounds are already required for all second and third-trimester abortions and are standard medical practice to determine gestational age and location of the unborn child.

Currently, over 80% of abortion clinics require an ultrasound before first trimester abortions and include it in the price, Hopkins said.

Though the measure doesn't require women to see the ultrasound -- it gives them the option -- Crist claimed it did in a Tampa Tribune interview.

"On two fronts it disturbs me," Crist said, according to the newspaper. "That you would force a woman to go through this procedure . . . almost seems mean-spirited. To have your government impose on you, listen to a lecture, then on top of that, you have to pay for it."

The language does not require women to view the ultrasound and gives them the ability to sign a form opting out of seeing one. The form also ensures abortion clinics give women the opportunity to view the ultrasound of their baby.

The state House voted 76-44 for the bill while the Senate supported it with a 23-16 vote -- and both are short of the two-thirds necessary to override a gubernatorial veto.

Statewide pro-life groups like Florida Right to Life and the Florida Family Policy Council also urged Crist to support the bill.

Florida pro-life Senate candidate Marco Rubio also urged Crist the sign the bill.

"It is my hope that Governor Crist will come down on the side of life, and sign HB 1143 into law, or at least allow it to become law without his signature," Rubio said in a statement received earlier. "This commonsense measure is a small but important step toward providing women with vital information during perhaps the most critical healthcare decision they will ever make."

In 2006, there were 95,586 abortions performed in Florida.
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Florida Right to Life (FRTL) is the state's largest pro-life group with chapters throughout Florida. FRTL works through legislation and education to protect those threatened by abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and assisted suicide.
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