Florida's legislature is on its way to passing one of the most comprehensive packages yet seen at the state level to limit women's options for abortion.
After Republican members of the Florida House pushed through six bills on Wednesday that would limit access to abortions for women and teens within the state, the Florida Senate on Thursday afternoon passed its version of two of the measures -- a bill and a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban the use of public and insurance exchange money for abortions, the Associated Press reports.
The six abortion bills passed through the House would require women to have an ultrasound before terminating any pregnancy, place additional requirements on teens seeking abortions, and restrict the use of state money to pay for insurance plans that cover abortion.
Under the ultrasound bill, all women seeking abortions in Florida will be required to have an ultrasound, though women who can show proof of sexual assault -- a police report or restraining order -- would be exempt.
The ultrasound bill passed through both chambers last year but was vetoed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist (R). It is now expected to pass through the Senate and be signed by Gov. Rick Scott (R).
Other legislation to pass included a bill that would make it more difficult for teens who don’t want to inform their parents they are getting an abortion to seek a waiver from circuit court, as well as a bill redirecting the "Choose Life" license plate proceeds from the counties to the organization ChooseLife.org.
Florida's package also includes a bill that would ban abortions after the fetus is viable – or can sustain life outside the womb with or without assistance – or after the third trimester. The time of viability is a much debated issue. Nebraska passed a law last year restricting abortions after 20 weeks because it is believed a fetus can feel pain at that point.
Florida is just one of many states making abortion a focal point in legislation. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a sexual and reproductive health research institute, legislators around the country introduced 916 pieces of legislation related to reproductive health since the beginning of 2011.
In Indiana, both chambers passed a bill making abortion regulations tighter and cutting off funding to the Planned Parenthood. The bill awaits Gov. Mitch Daniels's signature.
By the end of March, seven states had enacted laws that extended waiting periods for women seeking abortions, limited private insurance abortions, and created stricter guidelines for abortion clinics.