TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Lawmakers in Florida have voted to defund the abortion giant Planned Parenthood, as well as to place new requirements on abortion facilities that mirror those currently being challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court.
House Bill 1411 reallocates funds that abortion providers had been receiving as Medicaid reimbursement, and prohibits the government from contracting with organizations that offer abortion services—with the exceptions of rape, incest and the life of the mother. Abortion facilities receive approximately $200,0000 a year in Medicaid funds.
“A state agency, a local governmental entity, or a managed care plan … may not expend funds for the benefit of, pay funds to, or initiate or renew a contract with an organization that owns, operates, or is affiliated with one or more clinics,” the bill reads.
Current state and federal law prohibits funds from being used toward abortion, but Florida lawmakers believe that the state shouldn’t help keep abortion facilities in business either.
“We pay their light bill, we pay their salaries, we pay all kinds of things when the state contracts with these clinics,” Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, outlined on the Senate floor on Wednesday. “Let’s get Florida out of the abortion business. That’s what this bill does.”
The bill also requires abortionists to obtain admitting privileges or transfer agreement with a local hospital and mandates stricter inspections at abortion facilities. In Texas and Mississippi, where admitting privilege laws have been passed, some abortion facilities have faced possible closure as they have been unable to find hospitals that willing to work with them.
“If an any owner, operator, or employee of an abortion clinic fails to dispose of fetal remains and tissue in a sanitary manner … consistent with the disposal of other human tissue in a competent professional manner, the license of such clinic may be suspended or revoked, and such person commits is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree,” the legislation additionally outlines.
H.B. 1411 passed the Senate by a vote of 25-15 on Wednesday after being approved by the House Senate 25-15. It now will be sent to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott, who has not yet indicated whether or not he will sign the legislation.
Cecile Richard, the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, claimed that the law will leave some women with no place to go to obtain health care.
“This bill would strip many women of their access to basic health care, such as cancer screenings, birth control, and abortion. As a health care provider, Planned Parenthood knows how laws like this leave women devastated,” she said in a statement. “Women in Texas have been forced to drive hundreds of miles to access abortion, or self-induce abortion without medical supervision.”
However, others note that the funds will be reallocated to other women’s health organizations in the state—as long as they do not end the lives of unborn children.
As previously reported, in its annual report released in late December, the national office of Planned Parenthood outlined that the organization performed 323,999 abortions nationwide during the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
However, while the organization also claimed that it is “stronger than ever,” its figures showed that the number of women visiting Planned Parenthood is the lowest in almost a decade. The report totals its services provided as being 9,455,582, with business being down by nearly a million persons from the year before, when figures totaled 10,590,333.