Governor Rick Scott has approved a controversial bill restricting state funding to organizations that provide elective abortions. The measure is similar to a law in Texas pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel’s bill increases surgical standards on clinics, requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges and agreements with local hospitals, and re-defines the length of a trimester. Stargel has made such bills her legislative priority.
“Would I like a bill that outlaws abortion? Sure. But that’s not what this bill does. Because that’s unconstitutional. Because we’re allowed to have a woman’s right to choose," Stargel argued prior to the bill passing the Senate.
ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon blasted Governor Rick Scott for signing the bill. Simon says he's waiting to see how the Florida Supreme Court rules on a separate law establishing an abortion waiting period before deciding whether to challenge HB 1411.
“Oh my God, he’s opposed to putting the government between people and their doctors, except when it comes to Florida’s women. When it comes to Florida’s women, he’ll sign any restriction whatsoever. I think this is depressing, but not at all unexpected," Simon said.
Meanwhile, the Florida Family Policy Council is claiming a major victory. Last year the council’s John Stemberger criticized Governor Rick Scott for not banning state funding from flowing to Planned Parenthood after false accusations last summer that planned parenthood was illegally selling fetal remains caused a national uproar.
“We would have liked for him by executive order to de-fund Planned Parenthood without having to go through this process," Stemberger said. "But we are pleased he signed this today. He did the right thing, and so we’re happy about that. We wish he would have exercised leadership, but he followed the leadership of the legislature and the same result has occurred.”
Florida’s Planned Parenthood Clinics say they’ll weather the coming storm. Public dollars are already prohibited from funding abortions, but the bill would cut off reimbursements for routine preventive services as well if they are done by an abortion provider.
“It’s just a shame that politicians like Governor Rick Scott and the bill sponsors are taking the chance to launch these political attacks. But the health centers will continue to be there for the patients," said Laura Goodhue, Executive Director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates.