POINT OF VIEW Florida abortion opponents turning lies into laws


For too long, Florida policymakers have enacted obstacle after obstacle to prevent women from exercising their reproductive rights. Whether it’s arbitrarily contrived waiting periods, burdensome requirements on abortion providers, patients and their doctors, or efforts to defund organizations that provide abortion care — enough is enough.

Last year, the National Partnership for Women & Families and Progress Florida Education Institute released a report showing that 64 percent of abortion restrictions introduced in the 2016 Florida Legislature were based on total fabrications about abortion safety and the health care professionals who provide abortion care.

Unfortunately, anti-abortion legislators are planning more of the same in 2017. A House subcommittee already passed HB 19, designed to intimidate legal abortion providers by opening them up to frivolous lawsuits. This bill perpetuates the falsehood that women regret having abortions, despite no evidence to support this claim.

Twenty-week abortion ban legislation (HB 203/SB 348) has also been filed. These bans are unpopular, unconstitutional attempts by opponents of safe and legal abortion to impose restrictions on access to abortion. These laws rely on alternative facts about “fetal pain” that are not supported by science or leading medical institutions.

These restrictions are not just based on lies; they are medically unnecessary. The Florida Legislature in recent years has enacted a gantlet of unnecessary restrictions designed to pressure and punish women, and block access to abortion care.

In 2011, the Legislature passed and Gov. Rick Scott signed into law HB 1127, which forces doctors to provide and women to undergo a mandatory ultrasound before being able to obtain abortion care, usurping the medical judgment of health care providers and ignoring women’s wishes. In a cruel twist of irony, abortion opponents pushed this bill forcing women to view an ultrasound of their uterus after banning the use of the word “uterus” on the House floor.

Last year, the Legislature passed and Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 1411, a dangerous far-reaching law that imposes multiple restrictions on abortion providers and women seeking care, including onerous and unnecessary regulations designed to restrict access to abortion care and reduce support to health care providers that offer comprehensive reproductive health care. While these restrictions were passed under the false guise of “patient safety,” in truth they have the opposite effect of making it harder for women to access care and undermining women’s health.

A recent nationwide survey by the National Institute for Reproductive Health asked voters about their views on abortion policy. More than 70 percent responded that having an abortion should be affordable, readily available and a pressure-free experience. The recent Women’s Marches in Washington, D.C., here in Florida and across the country are further evidence that women will not stand for politicians interfering in our deeply personal health decisions.

Nurse, writer and birth control champion Margaret Sanger said: “No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body.”

AMY WEINTRAUB, ST. PETERSBURG

Editor’s note: Amy Weintraub is chairwoman of the Reproductive Health & Justice Committee for the League of Women Voters of Florida.



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