Advertisement
  1. Opinion

Editorial: New abortion restrictions should not stand

If a bill that would siphon money away from preventive care efforts for women to exercise their constitutional right is signed by Gov. Rick Scott, it should be challenged in court.
If a bill that would siphon money away from preventive care efforts for women to exercise their constitutional right is signed by Gov. Rick Scott, it should be challenged in court.
Published Mar. 17, 2016

The Florida Legislature has been brazen in its repeated attempts to restrict access to abortion. Thankfully, some of the most blatant restrictions proposed this year never made it to the full House or Senate. But a bill that would siphon money away from preventive care efforts for women who are exercising their constitutional right was approved and sent to Gov. Rick Scott. If the governor follows through with his signal that he will sign the bill into law, it should be challenged in court.

Sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, the legislation would require doctors who perform abortions at clinics to have admitting privileges at hospitals within a "reasonable proximity" to the clinic unless the facility has a transfer agreement with the hospital. The bill also would ban sending state money to clinics that perform abortions even though the money is for other uses. Each year, about $200,000 in Medicaid funds is spent on preventive care programs, including tests for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and cancer screenings.

Supporters who argue that the bill will improve women's health care offerings are not fooling anyone. State law already bans using public money to pay for abortions. This legislation is a swipe at Planned Parenthood, which provides preventive care in addition to abortions. The organization drew the ire of abortion-rights opponents last summer after its officials were secretly videotaped having distasteful conversations about the collection of fetal tissue used in scientific research. The Legislature continues to wage war against the organization even though a grand jury found Planned Parenthood had not broken the law and instead indicted the undercover activists who videotaped the conversations. Planned Parenthood clinics should not be targeted for closure by budget cuts. That punishes women who depend on the organization for quality, dependable care.

Likewise, the bill's failure to define "reasonable proximity" in specifying where doctors must have hospital admitting privileges creates a nebulous standard that leaves too much room for discretion. But more than that, the policy is unnecessary and could force abortion providers to close and leave women who are seeking abortions on their own.

Florida's latest attempt to restrict access to abortion comes after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments earlier this month in a Texas case in which attorneys argued that similar laws were unconstitutional. The court has not ruled in that case, but it issued an injunction in a Louisiana case to stop a state law that required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals.

Last year, Scott signed a bill that created a 24-hour waiting period before women could have an abortion. That law is embroiled in legal challenges, as it restricts access to abortions and wrongly asserts that women have not thought deeply about their decisions before showing up for the procedure.

Scott should not make the same mistake twice. Unless he uses his veto pen to stop this abortion legislation, the governor sets the state up for more lawsuits.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. A U.S. Army carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Chief Warrant Officer 2 David C. Knadle, of Tarrant, Texas, who according to the Department of Defense died in Afghanistan, during a casualty return ceremony, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, in Dover Air Force Base, Del. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) [EVAN VUCCI  |  AP]
    The U.S. government painted a false picture to the American public for years.
  2. President Donald Trump listens to a question during a meeting with Paraguay's President Mario Abdo Benitez in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Washington. [EVAN VUCCI  |  AP]
    Here’s what readers had to say in Monday’s letters to the editor.
  3. A medic with the United States Army's Task Force Shadow "Dust Off," Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment leads Marines as they carry an Afghan civilian wounded by insurgent gunfire on a stretcher to a waiting medevac helicopter in southern Helmand Province, Afghanistan in Jan. 2011. [KEVIN FRAYER  |  ASSOCIATED PRESS]
    Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
  4. A package of Pampers Cruisers diapers. [JENNIFER KERR  |  AP]
    Here’s what readers had to say in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
  5. Jeremy Sutliff drags a freshly cut hop plant over to the harvesting machine at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    Researchers are trying to make a variety of hops suitable to Florida’s climate.
  6. This photo provided by Time magazine shows Greta Thunberg, who has been named Time’s youngest “person of the year” on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.   The media franchise said Wednesday on its website that Thunberg is being honored for work that transcends backgrounds and borders.  (Time via AP) [AP]
    Here’s what readers had to say in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
  7. A look at major newspapers' editorials on impeachment [Tampa Bay Times]
    A round-up of excerpts of editorials from across America.
  8. Election day at the Coliseum for St. Petersburg municipal elections. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Florida should make it easier, not harder, for voters in 2020, writes a new Florida State graduate.
  9. The manuscript of Florida's constitution from 1885. The current version was revised and ratified in 1968. [Florida Memory]
    The governor wants to give a civics test to high school students. He should aim higher and require one of state lawmakers.
  10. President Donald Trump speaks Thursday during the White House Summit on Child Care and Paid Leave in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) [EVAN VUCCI  |  AP]
    The House has enough reason to justify the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement