Yesterday, the Florida Senate passed a package of six of the 916 anti-abortion bills working their way through state houses nationwide. The GOP package includes bills to force women to hear a description of their fetus, require ethics training for abortion doctors, strengthen parental consent requirements, and allow money from “Choose Life” license plates to go to an anti-abortion organization.
Florida state senators, however, only passed two of these bills. One bans insurance policies purchased under the health care exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act from covering abortion. The other? A constitutional amendment to ban public funding and “exempt abortion from the Florida Constitution’s strong privacy right.”
The fact that both federal and state law already prohibit public funding for abortion didn’t stop 27 senators from insisting it be enshrined in the state’s constitution — three more than needed to put it on the 2012 ballot, where it must be approved by voters in order to proceed. The unfortunate redundancy of the measure was completely lost on the amendment’s sponsor, state Sen. Anitere Flores (R), who said, “Should Floridians be forced to pay for something that they don’t agree with? I think the answer is no.”
It was not lost, however, on two Republicans — state Sens. Evelyn Lynn and Dennis Jones — who joined all but one Democrats in opposition. “We know the intent of all these bills and that is to restrict the right of all women as well as to nip away and chip away at Roe versus Wade,” said state Sen. Eleanor Sobel (D).
Lynn was also the only Republican to vote against the bill banning insurance policies from covering abortion because, she said, the bill unfairly targets women:
Lynn argued the bill discriminates against women because public funds are used to buy Viagra and other impotency drugs for men.
“This is not a funny issue,” Lynn said. “All the males on the floor seem to be laughing.”
Florida now joins Montana in pushing for a constitutional amendment on abortion and at least 25 states that already ban, or are working to ban, insurance coverage for abortion under the Affordable Care Act.