Pro-life groups shared a moment of celebration this week as they witnessed the Florida Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee vote positively on what may soon be the biggest change to abortion laws in the state of Florida in nearly a decade.
Depending on how the Florida legislature votes within the next few months, all women in Florida may soon be required to view an ultrasound before getting an abortion.
Adam Goldman, the Florida Right to Life's Vice-President of Legislative Affairs, was among those who praised the new initiative, noting that a majority of women who view ultrasounds opt to pursue options other than abortion.
"This important legislation will require an ultrasound examination to be performed prior to an abortion being performed. Studies have shown significant rates of mothers changing their minds and deciding against obtaining an abortion," he said in a statement.
Though state laws already require that women view ultrasounds if they are in their second or third trimester of pregnancy, the new legislation will mandate that all women view an ultrasound and be informed of the age of the fetus before making any decision to pursue an abortion.
While reaction to the bill seems to be mostly positive, the bill was criticized by some who viewed the measure as an "invasion of privacy."
"This bill is about, I believe, blatant government interference. It is also insulting to women who should be the ones responsible for making decisions about their lives and bodies with the professional judgment of their doctors," said Democratic Sen. Nan Rich, according to The Herald Tribune.
Senate Republican leader Dan Webster, however, argued that the bill would not be a significant change to what already exists in state law – ultrasounds are already a routine matter at abortion clinics, and the new bill would only require that abortion practitioners merely turn the screen around to patients and give them a short explanation, he told The Bradenton Herald.
Webster also noted that any woman could opt out of procedure if they choose to sign a waiver.
"I don't think it's an invasion of privacy at all. I think it's an opportunity for someone to see what actually is going on inside of them," Webster said, according to The Herald Tribune.
"We use written material to explain and make sure that there's information given to that woman that would like to terminate her pregnancy about her fetus in the womb. This would take it one step further to give her the very best information, a picture that she can actually see," he added.
According to the most recent figures by the Florida State Health Department, there are an estimated 96,000 abortions annually throughout the state.