Lawmakers say Planned Parenthood opposes abortion bills because of concern about bottom line

Published April 20, 2011|Updated April 21, 2011

Debate on three abortion bills got testy on Wednesday, with lawmakers saying Planned Parenthood only opposes the measures because they want to hang on to income from the procedures.

In discussion of HB 1127, a bill sponsored by Rep. Liz Porter, R-Lake City, requiring that women receive ultrasounds before undergoing an abortion, Rep. Ron Renuart, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, said that 30 percent of Planned Parenthood's revenue comes from abortions. That's the real reason the organization opposes the bill, he said.

"It sounds to me like they don't want to lose business," he said. Rep. Porter echoed that sentiment, saying Planned Parenthood cares only about its bottom line.

During discussion of a later bill, Planned Parenthood lobbyist Stephanie Kunkel struck back, saying 97 percent of the organization's work focuses on education and birth control.

Kunkel did offer Porter praise for amending her bill so that women can decline to view ultrasound images and have them described to her before receiving an abortion, although doctors still must offer the option. Women whose lives are endangered or are the victims of incest and rape could provide documentation of those situations and avoid the informational offer altogether. Kunkel deemed that provision "cruel," saying it would force a woman to revisit traumatic experiences, and in some cases, such documentation may not be available.

The House Health and Human Services Committee passed the bill along party lines and it's headed to the House floor. The committee passed two other abortion-related bills along party lines, and they too are now headed for a full House vote.

HB 97, sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Destin, prohibits public funding of abortions.

During debate on that bill, Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, told the story of becoming pregnant at age 16 and rejecting the option of abortion because of her Catholic upbringing.

"We all subscribe to different values and different reilgions, but every woman has a right to her decision," Cruz said. She urged lawmakers not to return abortions to "back rooms" where women's lives are endangered.

Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, is the sponsor of a bill that would limit abortions preformed if a fetus is "viable," which could be in the second trimester. Current law only limits abortions in the third trimester. In addition to limiting late-term abortions, Burgin's bill requires doctors who offer the procedure to receive ethics training and require that abortion clinics be owned by physicians.

Posted by Janet Zink at 12:33:07 pm on April 20, 2011