General Articles

Florida Governor Vetoes Bill Requiring Pre-Abortion Ultrasounds

Florida Governor Charlie Crist recently vetoed House Bill 1143 on June 11, 2010.[1] The bill would have required a woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy to pay for an ultrasound before undergoing the procedure. Nineteen states currently have legislation either requiring or encouraging pre-abortion ultrasounds.[2]
House Bill 1143, introduced by Representative Matt Hudson (R-District 101) was a broad, 137-page health care bill. Five pages of the legislation were devoted to abortion regulation and would have mandated that a doctor perform an ultrasound for all women prior to their receiving an abortion, even if the ultrasound was not medically necessary, and required a woman to pay between $200 and $1,000 out of pocket, depending on the provider, for an ultrasound before obtaining the abortion. The woman would have had the choice whether or not to view the image.[3] The legislation would have exempted “victims of rape, incest, domestic violence, or human trafficking” and “women who have a serious medical condition necessitating the abortion”[4] Florida currently has legislation in place that requires an ultrasound after the first trimester. Under the law the woman must be offered the opportunity to view the image.[5] The legislation also would have restricted individuals and private businesses that receive tax credits from providing their employees with health insurance that covers abortion, even if they don’t use federal or state subsidies to purchase their plans, going far beyond current restrictions.
In a memorandum outlining his reasoning for the veto, Governor Crist cited that the requirements of the bill, financially and otherwise, place an “inappropriate burden on women” and “would violate a woman’s right to privacy.” Governor Crist, who is running as an Independent for one of Florida’s United States Senate seats in the upcoming election, also noted that laws should not “coerce people to obtain medical tests or procedures that are not medically necessary.”[6]
Of the 19 states with ultrasound related legislation, eightof them require that verbal or written materials about ultrasound be provided and 14 regulate the conditions of ultrasounds by abortion providers.[7] Health policy analysts at the Guttmacher Institute have condemned a woman being required to view an ultrasound prior to an abortion procedure as “a veiled attempt to personify the fetus and dissuade the woman from obtaining an abortion.”[8]
“HB 1143 played politics with women’s health and would have done nothing to reduce the need for abortion,” says Stephanie Kunkel, executive director of the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. “We thank Governor Crist for allowing doctors, not politicians, to make medical decisions that are in the best interest of his or her patient.”[9]

[1] Damien Cave, “Florida Governor Vetoes Abortion Bill.” New York Times, 11 June 2010, accessed 12 June 2010, <>.

2] Guttmacher Institute, State Policies in Brief: Requirements for Ultrasound (1 June 2010), accessed 8 June 2010, <>.

[3], Ultrasound Costs and Pricing Information (June 2010), accessed 18 June 2010, <>.

[5] Guttmacher Institute, State Policies in Brief: Requirements for Ultrasound.

[6] Sterling Ivey, Florida Governor Charlie Crist | MEMORANDUM: Governor’s Bill Action Today, June 11, 2010, accessed 15 June 2010, <>.

[7] Guttmacher Institute, “State Policies in Brief: Requirements for Ultrasound.”

[8] Ibid.

[9] Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, Governor Crist Vetoes HB 1143 (June 2010), accessed 7 July 2010, <>.