VERO BEACH – Planned Parenthood pulled out of Indian River County in 2013, following regular protests outside its Vero Beach clinic.
Despite the current lack of any abortion clinic in Indian River County, residents aided by a national anti-abortion group asked county commissioners on Nov. 17 to pass a strict new anti-abortion ordinance.
Following a 35 minute presentation, commissioners moved on to other business without discussion, other than Chairman Joe Flescher thanking the speakers for a “very informative” presentation.
County resident Paul Zelno, who identified himself as Chairman of the IRC Victims’ Rights Coalition, initiated the discussion.
Mr. Zelno asked the commissioners to consider a draft ordinance he submitted called the Safe Harbor for Life ordinance.
“The local proposed ordinance requires enforcement for abortion clinics to comply with four additional safety standards and choices that are not currently required in the state of Florida,” Mr. Zelno said.
First, “it prohibits the discrimination of abortions based on gender and Down syndrome. Unborn children that are female are three times more likely to be aborted than male.”
Second, Mr. Zelno’s proposed ordinance contained “a prohibition on taking a life of an unborn at 20 weeks, when documentation shows unborn can feel pain at 20 weeks.”
Third, Mr. Zelno proposed a “requirement of offering the choice of adoption as an alternative to abortion.”
Fourth, Mr. Zelno urged “providing informed consent, the choice of a reversal of a medical chemical procedure called RU 486, the pill, should the mother change her decision in the process.”
Mr. Zelno said his goal is “to reduce the risk to an unborn and a mother’s risk to life by passing this ordinance. We can seize this time as an opportunity to lead on the most challenging moral issue of our generation by passing the safety and informed consent ordinance requirement for abortion clinics serving as a model and signature ordinance for other counties throughout Florida and this nation.”
Regarding abortion that may be motivated by gender, the draft ordinance proposed banning “sex-selection abortion, which is abortion done to prevent the birth of a child of an undesired sex, has been documented to exist, outside the U.S. and, increasingly, inside it, and the victims of sex selection abortion are overwhelmingly female.”
The bill bans doctors from performing an abortion “with the knowledge that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion because of the sex of the unborn child.”
The draft claimed that more than 70% of fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. The proposed bill includes language addressing the doctor, saying “No person may intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion with knowledge that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion because the unborn child has been diagnosed with either Down syndrome or a potential for Down syndrome.”
The bill expands that to include a prohibition on abortions for any genetic abnormality, saying “No person may intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion with knowledge that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the unborn child has been diagnosed with either a genetic abnormality or a potential for a genetic abnormality.”
Regarding rare late-term abortions, the proponents of the ordinance argued this was necessary for the safety of the mother. They cited increased risks to the mother’s life when the abortion is performed after the first trimester.
Concerning what they termed “informed consent,” the draft ordinance called for creation by the Indian River Health Department of a form including such elements as “a printed copy of the ultrasound image that is dated and time-stamped, with the presence of a fetal heart tone confirmed;” “a detailed description of the drug-induced abortion regimen or procedure;” and notification that “it may be possible to slow or stop the effects of the drug-induced abortion should she change her mind, but that time is of the essence.”
The informed consent provisions would also require telling the woman about adoption services available.
The bill says that the women requesting the abortion will not be prosecuted, but does urge prosecution of doctors. It proposes that “Any physician who intentionally or knowingly performs or induces an abortion in violation of this Ordinance and thereby kills an unborn child shall be fined not less than five hundred dollars under this Ordinance, or be imprisoned not less than six months, or both.”