Jumping on the national trend of attacking women's reproductive rights, Republican lawmakers in Florida are pushing a record number of bills that aim to restrict abortions. Just yesterday, two measures that prohibit abortion rights were approved by the Florida Senate Health Policy Committee, according to The Palm Beach Post.
The first is a proposed amendment to Florida's state constitution that would only allow public funding for abortion if the mother's life is at risk. Yes, that means there's no exception for cases of rape or incest. Flagler Live quotes the bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Anitere Flores, as saying, "If you believe it's a life, you need to protect it."
The second bill is a reaction to the new federal health law. It would prohibit the private insurance plans sold by state health exchanges, which must be set up by 2014, from covering abortion, except in cases of rape or incest or to save the mother's life.
Florida Republicans have recently introduced 18 bills attacking abortion rights, which is a record for one year. Their main goal is to pass a bill requiring women seeking abortions to have, and pay for, an ultrasound and listen to a medical professional describe the fetus. Last year, Governor Charlie Crist vetoed the bill, and it's believed that it cost him the election. It also motivated anti-choice activists to help elect more conservative Republicans, including Governor Rick Scott, who says he supports the measure.
Stephanie Kunkel, executive director of the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, says:
This session is definitely going to be one of our most hard-fought sessions to protect women's access to reproductive health care ... The attack on women is much more prominent this year than it has been in previous years.
Even some Republicans are saying that they won't approve the prohibition on public funding for abortion without exceptions for rape and incest, and it's unlikely that the bill will be approved by the Senate in its current state. As for the health-exchange bill, Senator Mike Bennett says he'll be voting against it, even though he's against abortion. "I have a problem as a Republican telling companies what they can and can't offer and telling consumers what they can and can't buy," he said. Unfortunately, it seems most other Republicans are willing to violate their own beliefs concerning businesses if it means they'll be able to deny women their right to an abortion.