Facing immense pressure to veto a measure that both opts the state out of the federal health law’s abortion mandate and requires ultrasounds before abortion, Florida governor Charlie Crist has said that, even though he is personally “pro-life,” he may strike down the bill out of unwillingness “to impose my will on others.”
The controversial bill, HB 1143, requires abortionists to give women an opportunity to view ultrasound images of their unborn children before an abortion, and to provide a “description of the fetus, including a description of the various stages of development.” The bill includes an exception in cases where the mother is a victim of rape, incest, domestic violence, human trafficking, or at risk of life-threatening injury due to the pregnancy; it also allows for women to decline to view the ultrasound.
In addition, the measure prohibits private health insurers from covering abortions in plans subsidized by taxpayer funding, either federal or state, disrupting the abortion funding embedded in President Obama’s new federal health care law. The language was based off a template offered by Americans United for Life, who prepared the opt-out strategy for use in any U.S. state. So far, lawmakers in Arizona, Tennessee, and Mississippi have approved similar language.
However, because the bill has elicited widespread controversy in the state, Crist has indicated that he may not back the measure.
“I’m concerned about it,” Crist said of the pro-life measure Wednesday. “Even though I’m pro-life I don’t want to impose my will on others.”
Crist, once a Republican, abandoned the party to run for U.S. Senate as an independent a day before the bill was passed in the state legislature last month.
The Palm Beach Post political blog reported Wednesday that Crist “appears likely” to veto the bill. Once the bill reaches his desk, Crist will have 15 days to decide how to act.
Sheila Hopkins of the Florida Catholic Conference told the Herald that Crist’s decision could have a major impact on his wavering pro-life image.
“This bill is a test for him,” said Hopkins.