A new bill has advanced to the Florida House for consideration and it is causing a lot of local controversy. The bill would allow women to sue doctors who perform abortions without “informed consent”. Sponsored by Erin Grall, a republican from Very Beach, the bill would give women the right to seek damages for up to 10 years after an abortion if a doctor failed to give adequate information about the physical and psychological harms that can follow the procedure. Prior to this bill, women could only sue abortion providers through medical malpractice claims.
Grall presented the proposed bill to a House Subcommittee, arguing that there was a need for women to have a process that was less time-consuming than medical malpractice cases. Of course, there was plenty of argument over the controversial claims related to psychological harm caused by abortions. Democrat Shevrin Jones asked for evidence to be presented that abortion can cause psychological harm. Gall responded that there was a lack of hard research on this because it is largely underreported. However, she reported that “many women and many organizations” had talked to her about the intense emotional distress that can occur for a woman after having the procedure.
A number of insurance companies and Florida doctors have been strongly opposed to the bill. At one medical malpractice insurance business, spokesman Mark Delegal said that the bill would be incredibly damaging, completely undermining all of the medical malpractice reforms that the Florida House had passed in 2003.
William Large, president of Florida Justice Reform Institute also argued against the bill. “There’s nothing to suggest that current law in insufficient to address the harm suffered by women who have had abortions – certainly nothing that justifies vastly expanding physician liability and treating those injured by abortions differently for all other medical malpractice claimants.”
Erin Foster, a volunteer from Tampa Planned Parenthood, spoke against the bill. “Most of you in this room would not have an audacity if she regretted having a baby, so I don’t know why you deem it acceptable to ask the one in three women like myself why we regret our abortions.”
Democrat Wengay Newton believes the bill is just a cloaked attack on abortion. “I do believe that this is an attempt to eliminate abortions.” However, Republican Ray Wesley Rodrigues said the bill wouldn’t be harmful because it would only impact doctors who didn’t give informed consent, which should be expected no matter where you stand on the abortion issue.
Christopher Ligori, a Tampa personal injury attorney, said the bill definitely brings a lot of questions for the House to consider. “There are a couple different ways to look at this bill. While most want to make this a matter of whether abortion is right or wrong, it’s actually a bill that address whether abortion providers are doing a thorough job in providing the right information to women who are seeking their services.”
If the House passes this bill, it would become the first of its kind in the nation.