Sweeping Abortion Legislation Comes Before Federal Court

Jun 29, 2016

Credit Sal Falko via Flickr

A measure placing new restrictions on abortion providers takes effect Friday unless a federal judge intervenes.  Planned Parenthood is calling on the court to block the measure. 

Planned Parenthood is challenging three parts of the bill including a section requiring state regulators to audit at least half an abortion providers’ books annually.  The law’s backers say the demand places a burden on the state—not women seeking abortions.  But Barbara Zdravecky, CEO for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, says the rule will have a major impact on staffing.

“We have to have staff with the AHCA reviewers for however long that it takes to make sure that the confidentiality of the records stays intact and that the AHCA reviewers, in full cooperation with us, are able to target the information that they need,” she says.  “So there’s a big burden on the confidentiality of the patients as well as on our staff.”

The case also challenges provisions redefining trimester and blocking all funds going to organizations that provide abortions—even if those funds support other services for women’s health.  The judge repeatedly took the state’s attorney to task for that latter aspect of the law.

Planned Parenthood attorney Carrie Flaxman argues a defunding provision violates her client’s constitutional rights.

“The law is quite clear—Supreme Court case after Supreme Court case—that you cannot deprive an entity of funds because of constitutionally protected conduct they engage in with other funds,” Flaxman says.

If the law takes effect, Planned Parenthood says it will lose half a million dollars in funding for women’s health services.

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