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New Florida Laws Protect State’s Tiniest Citizens, Birth Injury Attorneys in Orlando Say
On July 1, More than 270 new or revised Florida laws went into effect. The subject matter covers a dizzying range. But those that birth injury attorneys here at Todd E. Copeland & Associates support most passionately are those designed to better protect our state’s tiniest and most vulnerable citizens – newborn babies.
Among the new laws drafted is one aimed directly at reducing Florida’s rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, known as SIDS. Defined as “the unexpected, sudden death of a child under age one, in which an autopsy does not show an explainable cause of death,” SIDS claimed the lives of more than 200 children in 2010, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Health. The law mandates that hospitals and alternative birth centers implement safe sleeping practices for newborns in their own facilities, and that they train new parents to continue those same practices at home. It also requires specialized training for first responders, and mandates that Florida’s Medical Examiners Commission create a protocol for the forensic investigation of SIDS cases.
Another new statute mandates medical care for newborns who survive botched abortion procedure and penalties against providers that fail to provide that care. Known as the Florida “born-alive” bill, it was sponsored by State Representative Cary Pigman, who also happens to be an emergency medicine physician. In one hearing, Rep. Pigman testified that more than 1,270 babies are born following failed abortion attempts nationwide in 2010. Their deaths were reported as “mortality subsequent to an abortion,” he explained, adding “and I emphasize ‘reported.’” That’s because the actual number of such deaths may be much higher.
The Florida statute is based on the federal Born Alive Infants Protection Act, signed into law by then-President George W. Bush in August of 2002. Efforts to pass similar, enhanced laws in other states have proven contentious, especially in Illinois, where President Barack Obama, at the time an Illinois State Representative, repeatedly opposed that state’s version.
Florida’s law provides that “an infant born alive during or immediately after an attempted abortion is entitled to the same rights, powers, and privileges as any other child born alive in the course of natural birth.” It requires health care practitioners to preserve the life and health of such an infant born alive, if possible, and requires practitioners or certain employees who have knowledge of any violations of the law to report them to the Department of Health.
A separate new state law requires courts terminate parental rights of one parent if there is clear and convincing evidence that the child’s conception was a result of unlawful sexual battery. It further requires the requiring the court to accept a guilty plea or conviction as conclusive proof that the child was conceived by a violation of criminal law
See a list of the new laws and links to their full texts online at laws.flrules.org. And if your child has suffered an injury or death potentially covered by one of these new laws, contact Todd E. Copeland & Associates and speak with an experienced personal injury or birth injury attorney today.