TALLAHASSEE, Florida, March 15, 2011 ( – Florida has seen a surge in pro-life legislation of late, including two measures approved by the Senate Health Policy Committee this week.

Republican lawmakers in Florida have introduced 18 bills in the past year that would limit access to abortion – a record high.

The first of the two bills approved by the Senate committee Monday would mandate that health insurance plans under the state health exchanges implemented by Obama’s health care reform law would not be able to fund abortions with taxpayer dollars. The bill, Senate Bill 1414, was introduced by Republican Senator Stephen R. Wise. 

While the Obama health care reform law requires that at least one plan provide abortion coverage under the state exchanges, it has an opt-out clause that many states, including Florida, are making use of.  Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, North Dakota, and Oklahoma have already approved similar measures, and nearly two dozen other states are endeavoring to follow suit.

The second bill is a proposed amendment to the Florida constitution that would prohibit public funding of abortions, except to save the life of the mother. It would also prohibit public funds from being used in state health benefits that include abortion.

The Senate committee approved both Bill 1414 and the proposed constitutional amendment in a 9-3 vote.

Stephanie Kunkel, executive director of the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, has expressed dismay over the proposed pro-life legislation.  “This session,” she said, “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.”

Meanwhile, Florida Right to Life President Carrie Eisnaugle has said former Florida Governor Charlie Crist’s veto of a bill last year that would have required an ultrasound viewing before an abortion caused an uproar and reaction from the pro-life movement.

“When folks were voting, a lot of pro-life voters came out based on that veto,” said Eisnaugle. “Governor Crist vetoing that bill definitely organized the grass-roots community in a way it hadn’t had the opportunity to in a long time.”

Obama’s health care reform law has also led to increased efforts in the pro-life community, said Eisnaugle,  “That’s definitely gotten their attention.”


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