WEST PALM BEACH – Despite the state’s ongoing budget crisis and record high unemployment, the Florida Legislature still has time to wage an attack against the most basic preventative health care for the women of Florida and to interfere in the private medical affairs of Florida families.
This session, Members of the legislature have introduced 18 separate measures to drastically reduce access to medically accurate information and services while simultaneously waging an all out war against legal abortion. Legislation ranges from a prohibition on the purchase of individual or group health insurance policies that offer coverage for medically necessary abortions(HB 97 by Rep. Matt Gaetz), to a comprehensive ban on abortion (HB 415 by Rep. Charles Van Zant) in Florida.
During Monday’s Health Care Appropriations subcommittee budget balancing exercise, the committee proposed an 18 percent reduction to the Medicaid family planning program, which helps women on Medicaid space their pregnancies to create healthy families. This program receives the highest federal match rate, whereby 90 percent of the costs are covered by the federal government. In addition, the subcommittee proposed a 35 percent reduction to the state’s family planning program which helps low-income women obtain annual well women exams, cancer screenings and birth control. Publicly funded family planning clinics in Florida help women prevent 62,000 unintended pregnancies each year according to the Guttmacher Institute.
“Studies have shown that for every dollar invested in family planning, taxpayers save $4 in future health related costs,” said Lillian Tamayo, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast. “Instead of investing in prevention, legislators are focusing on banning or severely restricting access to abortion which does nothing to prevent unintended pregnancy.”
The Florida legislature has a history of ignoring common sense solutions that would reduce unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion, including legislation that would expand access to birth control and teach teens how to prevent unintended pregnancy and protect themselves against diseases that threaten their health.
Ms. Tamayo added, “If legislators were truly concerned about preventing unintended pregnancy and reducing the need for abortion, they would stop politicizing health care and work with Planned Parenthood to expand access to the preventive and reproductive health care services that women need to plan healthy families. They should pass legislation that provides real solutions to preventing unintended pregnancy.”
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.
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