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Anti-abortion bills go to governor

This morning, following emotional debate, the Florida Senate gave final approval to two anti-abortion bills; one requires women to have and pay for an ultrasound, the other makes it harder for minors to have abortions without parents' consent.

The House had already passed both measures, so they now go to Gov. Rick Scott. He is expected to sign them.

Last year, former Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed the ultrasound bill after women's groups protested it.

The ultrasound bill (HB 1127) passed 25 to 14, with several senators splitting from their party's majority. One was Republican Sen. Evelyn Lynn of Ormond Beach, who chided supporters of abortion restrictions for the time being taken away from work on economic problems.

HB 1247, which would place new restrictions on minors who lack parents' consent, requires them to seek court approval only within the judicial circuits where they live. Currently, they can go before judges anywhere in their appellate districts --- a far-larger number of courts in some regions of the state.

On Wednesday, senators narrowly rejected a proposed amendment that would have allowed minors to continue seeking approval throughout the appellate districts. Amendment supporters said it was particularly important in rural areas, where local judges or courthouse workers would be more likely to know minors and their families.

But bill sponsor, Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, said the current appellate-district system allows minors to travel from as far as Pensacola to Jacksonville to get judicial approval.

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.