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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

House Democrats fail to remove Planned Parenthood ban from budget



Among the most hotly debated issues in the House’s budget proposal Wednesday was language to block all state money from Planned Parenthood.

The chamber’s Department of Health and Agency for Health Care Administration budgets direct that "no funds...may be provided to Planned Parenthood" and "no recipients of funds...shall provide funding to Planned Parenthood directly or indirectly."

It’s a sweeping declaration that would go beyond the state’s existing prohibition on spending taxpayer dollars on abortions.

But an attempt by Democrats to remove the language from the House’s budget proposal failed by a 72-36 vote.

Democrats also spent most of an hour trying to goad House Health Care Appropriations chairman Matt Hudson, R-Naples, into explaining his reasons for putting the language in the budget to begin with. He said once he found out DOH and AHCA were contracting with Planned Parenthood, even for a small amount, he “felt (it) needed to be pulled back.”

“If it is the will of the body to appropriate to any organization, then that should come before this body and not be an indirect thing outside this body,” Hudson said.

In general, state agencies are free to contract with whatever organizations they would like, within guidelines set by the state. But no other organization is specifically prohibited from receiving money in the budget in a way similar to Planned Parenthood.

Rep. Jared Moskowtiz, D-Coral Springs, said the language comes straight from Washington, D.C., where Republicans in Congress this year tried to defund Planned Parenthood. Tax dollars going to the organization in Florida are from federal funds earmarked for family planning, which five county health departments use to contract with Planned Parenthood.

“The only thing I can see out of this is that it was intentionally to politicize the budget,” Moskowitz said. “I always hear about how much better we are than Washington, but apparently we’re no better than them.”

The language is not in the Senate’s budget. That chamber doesn’t address Planned Parenthood at all but does include an additional $2 million for health services at crisis pregnancy centers.

“We have a little different tactic. We don't specifically reference Planned Parenthood, but what we do is look at crisis pregnancy centers,” President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, said. “We say, 'Let's fund programs that do everything but abortions.’”

[Last modified: Wednesday, February 10, 2016 7:41pm]


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