Why We’re Watching Florida
Florida politicians have made debating women’s health a sport. Instead of focusing on jobs and the economy, lawmakers wasted 59 days debating abortion restrictions. And when lawmakers debated an egregious mandatory ultrasound bill (now a law), they ironically censored officials from using the term “uterus” on the legislature floor. As a pro-women’s health advocate noted, how do you ban the word “uterus” at the same time you’re debating a bill that would force women to look at a picture of their uterus?
It’s no surprise that Governor Rick Scott hosted a party at the governor’s mansion when he signed four abortion restrictions, calling it a way for anti-choice activists to “celebrate the accomplishments.”
And, over the course of the fall, they’ve continued this attack by filing bill after bill in preparation for the session starting in January 2012, including proposed regulations that would make it nearly impossible to open and operate health centers that provide comprehensive reproductive health care such as lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, STI testing and treatment, and abortion care.
Like the laws passed in 2011, this bill does nothing to reduce unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion. Instead, it puts women’s health at risk and reduces access to safe and legal health care services.
But It’s Not Over Yet…
Normally, ballot initiatives could appear on the ballot after a certain amount of petitions are collected in favor of a particular initiative. However, the Florida Legislature bypassed Floridians by voting to put an anti-women’s health bill on the ballot in the 2012 election. Currently, the Florida Constitution contains stronger privacy rights than the United States Constitution. But Florida’s 2012 ballot initiative would amend the state constitution to deny women fundamental privacy rights, denying them the privacy rights they currently have and should continue to have.
If that weren’t enough, Florida is also likely to face a so-called “personhood” amendment in 2012. Petitions are being circulated throughout the state that would elevate the legal status of a fertilized egg to that of a living person, and effectively ban abortion, common birth control methods, and in vitro fertilization.
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How We Got Here
These attempts to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care are not new to Florida. The 2010 midterm elections worsened the political environment for women by creating a Republican supermajority in the Florida Legislature.
Miami Herald: Anti-abortion bill halted in state Senate
Don't let politicians erode women's health coverage
TIME: How Florida Is Leading U.S. Politics Back to the Culture Wars
Miami Herald: Gov. Rick Scott hosts abortion bill event at mansion
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