This article has been updated to include comment from Florida Right to Life.
TALLAHASSEE, Florida (LifeSiteNews) — Florida’s attorney general is petitioning for a reinstatement of a pre-Dobbs state law banning taxpayer dollars from being used to bankroll abortion centers including Planned Parenthood.
It’s a move that Florida’s popular Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis “fully” supports.
“The Office of Governor Ron DeSantis is fully behind this action from the Attorney General and we support this move to fully defund Planned Parenthood from any taxpayer support,” the governor’s office said in an email statement shared with LifeSiteNews.
The statement of support comes after Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a motion Wednesday asking the U.S District Court of the Northern District of Florida, Tallahassee Division, to vacate an injunction against the 2016 state law, HB 1411.
In 2016, the Florida Legislature defunded Planned Parenthood, but a district court halted the law from taking effect. Now that Roe v. Wade is overturned, we are petitioning the court to vacate the court’s injunction. https://t.co/aotmTqHuyG pic.twitter.com/PVv0TvMszD
— AG Ashley Moody (@AGAshleyMoody) February 22, 2023
Moody’s office said in a February 23 press release the law had “defunded abortion clinics such as Planned Parenthood,” but explained that it had been blocked by a district court for allegedly running afoul of the “right to abortion” established in Roe v. Wade (1973), since it “indirectly prohibited abortions.”
“While the state already did not pay for abortions as a general matter, HB 1411 cut off other funding,” the press release noted.
Since Roe has subsequently been ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Moody says the Florida law stripping abortion facilities in the state of taxpayer dollars, enacted at “will of our state’s legislative body and the people who elected,” should be allowed to “take effect.”
The move to defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers has predictably been met with outrage by abortion advocates.
Stephanie Fraim, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, said “the state is jeopardizing Floridians’ health” by fighting to keep Floridians’ hard-earned cash from funding abortions, The Tampa Bay Times reported.
Fraim characterized the move as “just the latest attack on the health of the communities that rely on our providers, especially Black and Latino people, young people, and people who are LGBTQ+.”
However, pro-lifers have been excited to see the action by the DeSantis administration.
“We are thrilled by the action to stop all public funding for Planned Parenthood. In light of the Dobb’s ruling last summer the timing is right for this move,” Florida Right to Life President Lynda Bell told LifeSiteNews in a Saturday email.
“Our pro life attorney general and our pro life Governor Ron DESANTIS took decisive action to request the court lift the injunction and end the flow of funds to this abortion business,” she continued.
“It is High time to end funding for the Planned Parenthood business, one that primarily exists to perform abortions,” Bell said. “One thing a majority of Floridians agree on is that abortion performing businesses should not receive public funding.”
DeSantis’ full-throated support for the petition comes after grassroots pro-life group Florida Voice for the Unborn raised concerns about rising abortion numbers in Florida during 2022, arguing that DeSantis hasn’t yet done enough to curtail abortion in the Sunshine State. Many neighboring states currently have far tougher laws on the books than Florida does.
Nevertheless, DeSantis has repeatedly committed to signing pro-life laws, and Florida Voice for the Unborn’s founder told LifeSite he’s hopeful that DeSantis’ strong popularity among his conservative base and apparent eye on national leadership could provide the crucial opportunity to get strong pro-life laws enacted in 2023.
And stronger legislation could be around the corner for Florida.
On January 23, the Florida Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to the Sunshine State’s 15-week abortion ban, which has been beset by court challenges since DeSantis signed it into law in April 2022.
The DeSantis administration has previously conveyed to LifeSiteNews that it sees the legal success of the 15-week ban as a crucial hurdle to clear before it can pursue further pro-life action.
Meanwhile, Florida’s heavily GOP-controlled legislature is slated to kick off its legislative session on March 7, presenting another opportunity to draft more meaningful protections for the unborn.