Fate of Controversial Abortion Bill Still Unknown
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05/28/10 Lisa Marzilli
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday | Listen to this entire show:

Taking it right down to the wire, Governor Crist met today’s deadline and signed a $70 billion state budget. But a controversial bill was conspicuously missing from his desk. HB1143, pushed through the Republican-controlled legislature at the very end of the session, would require women seeking an abortion to pay for and view an ultrasound image of the fetus prior to having the procedure.

Opponents of the bill are speculating that House leaders are deliberately delaying giving the bill to Crist to give its anti-choice supporters more time to flood his office with calls and e-mails. As of Thursday, Crist’s office had reportedly received just over 20,000 e-mails, calls and letters urging him to sign the bill, and about 13,000 total messages calling for its veto.

Stephanie Kunkel is executive director of Florida's Planned Parenthood Affiliates, and she spoke to WMNF about HB 1143.

Well, as of May 21st, House Bill 1143 is the only bill yet to be presented to the governor. There was a great article this morning in the St. Pete Times that basically quotes the staff director of the House Republican caucus as saying that the House is holding the bill to, quote, “give pro-life folks time to get their act together and contact the governor.” And anti-choice groups are hailing this bill as the most pro-life bill that Florida has passed in decades. And so they really know that they have more to lose if the governor vetoes this bill, and we just haven't really started our efforts yet to urge the governor to veto. Once he receives the bill, we'll start ramping up our efforts to get the governor to veto.

Q. So, Stephanie, what is the timetable on this? How long do legislators have to get this to Governor Crist's desk?

Well, today was actually the deadline for all of the bills that were presented to him prior to May 21st. The governor really doesn't have a deadline. According to the constitution, he just has to receive the bill in a, quote, “timely manner.” The only deadline is, once he actually receives the bill, then he has 15 days to either sign it into law, veto it, or to allow it to become law without his signature.

Planned Parenthood has been working hard to ensure that our like-minded organizations, and our coalition partners, and our supporters are reaching out to the governor, urging him to veto this heinous legislation. You know, we think that these efforts are paying off; you know, the governor has said repeatedly in interviews that he thinks the bill is mean-spirited, and he is leaning toward a veto, although he has not come out and said he will veto the bill. Once the governor receives the bill, we will put our activists and supporters on high alert to make calls and e-mails into the governor to veto this bill.

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