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Proposal: More Rules For Abortion Clinic Docs

Calling it the "Women's Health Protection Act," a Senate Republican last week filed a bill that would increase hospital-related requirements for doctors who perform abortions.

The bill (SB 602), filed by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, would require that abortion-clinic medical directors and doctors have admitting privileges at Florida hospitals or that they have patient-transfer agreements with hospitals within a 30-minute drive.

That is more-stringent than current law, which applies to clinic medical directors. That law says medical directors must have admitting privileges at hospitals or have transfer agreements with hospitals "within reasonable proximity" of the clinics.

Hospital admitting-privilege issues have touched off abortion political battles in other states. Supporters say such proposals help ensure patient safety, while critics contend the requirements are designed to make it harder to provide abortions.

State Rep. Mike Hill, R-Pensacola Beach, has filed a bill (HB 1) that would go further than Stargel's proposal. It would require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of clinics.

Both bills are filed for the 2016 legislative session, which starts in January.