Florida House and Senate Committees Vote Along Party Lines in Favor of Bills that are Detrimental to the Health and Well-Being of Women and Families
(Tallahassee) - The theoretical freight train of bad politics and bad policy, as related to women’s health, continues to barrel through the Capitol. The Health & Human Services Access Subcommittee and the Senate Committee on Transportation had the opportunity to make a stand in support of women’s reproductive health, but failed to do so.
Today’s committee votes fell squarely along party lines (10-5) with Democrats voting against and Republicans voting in favor of HB 97 – the so-called “Stupak” type bill that will ban abortion coverage in private health insurance plans. HB 97 is an aggressive attack against women’s access to a full range of health care procedures, including a ban on abortion even if it’s needed to protect her own health.
“We are severely disappointed that Members of this committee chose politics over the medical needs of women,” said Lillian Tamayo, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast. “Those women who are fortunate enough to have private health insurance in this time when so many families are without, should have coverage for all legal and medically necessary procedures, including abortion, especially when a woman’s health is at risk or when there are fetal impairments,” she added.
Similarly in the Senate, the Committee on Transportation voted 5-2, along party lines, in favor of SB 196. Though members of the committee promised to correct some of the blatant problems with the bill before it reaches the next committee, as it stands SB 196 diverts money away from direct services for pregnant women and infants. Sadly, the members failed to protect the women of Florida today when they voted to pass this bill out of the Transportation Committee.
Under this bill, agencies that receive funds collected from the sale of “Choose Life” license plates will no longer be required to direct at least 70% of the money to assisting with the material needs of pregnant women committed to adoption or infants awaiting placement with adoptive parents. Rather, 100% of the funds generated could now be spent on billboards and yellow book ads, or could be spent in other states to help them obtain their own “Choose Life” license plate.
Today’s votes on HB 97 and SB 196 continue the landslide of politically driven anti-women’s health bills in the Florida Legislature. Up for debate next is HB 501, sponsored by Representative Baxley (R-Ocala). HB 501 will be heard Thursday morning at 8:30 AM in the Economic Affairs Committee. The House companion to SB 196, this bill as well, will redirect annual use fees from the purchase of the “Choose Life” license plates away from programs that support women who choose the option of adoption and infants awaiting placement into adoptive homes.
Members of the House Economic Affairs Committee have a chance to step outside of politics to protect the health and well-being of women and families in Florida. Planned Parenthood strongly urges committee members to oppose HB 501.
The mission of Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast is to provide comprehensive sexual health care through the provision of clinical services, education and advocacy. We do so by understanding and responding to the needs of those seeking our services, and by protecting and respecting the essential privacy rights, dignity and culture of each individual.
Judith Selzer (561) 472-9940
March 16, 2011