[UPDATE] 4-28 10:45am - TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) --
The Florida Senate has approved a proposed state constitutional amendment and a bill to ban abortion funding with public and insurance exchange dollars.
The largely party line votes in the Republican-controlled Senate
on Wednesday sent both House-passed measures back to that chamber with some changes.
The amendment (HJR 1179) passed with 27 favorable votes -- the
minimum needed to put it on the 2012 ballot. It would ban public
funding -- already prohibited by federal law -- and exempt abortion
from the Florida Constitution's strong privacy right.
The bill (HR 79) would exclude abortion coverage from policies
obtained through insurance exchanges states must set up in 2014
under the federal health care overhaul.
Both include exceptions for rape, incest and to protect the
mother's life, but not her health.
Senate Democratic Women Denounce Government Encroachment Into Personal Freedom:
TALLAHASSEE – Led by Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich (D-Weston), united female members of the Senate Democratic Caucus on Thursday denounced Republican attempts to force government into the personal lives of women throughout Florida.
“Our government exists to protect our safety, our liberties, and our freedoms,” said Sen. Rich. “It has no business peeking into our doctor’s offices or our private business to control our right to choose.”
Joining Sen. Rich in opposition were Senate Democratic Leader Pro Tem Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa), Sen. Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood), Sen. Gwen Margolis (D-Miami) and Sen. Maria Sachs (D-Delray). “These measures are directly aimed at chiseling away at rights women are not only due, but legally protected by the nation’s highest court,” said Sen. Sachs. “They neither address the critical issues of our times, especially our high unemployment, nor do they create a single job. It’s a case of since we can’t fix the economy, we’ll divert your attention by meddling in your private affairs.”
At issue is the current onslaught of anti-choice legislation backed by conservative Republicans currently awaiting legislative action in the Senate. Many of the measures - from forcing women to pay for and view or have described to them, ultrasounds in the first trimester, to forbidding women access to private health insurance policies which include abortion coverage – directly interject government bureaucrats into personal decisions and private lives.
“It’s disheartening that the same energy Republicans dedicated to advancing a narrow ideological agenda wasn’t harnessed for a broader one targeting the devastating economic problems facing Florida,” said Sen. Rich. “They’ve offered 18 anti-choice bills to control our lives, but not a single job-producing bill guaranteed to better them.”
Florida's unemployment rate is 11 percent; a million people are out of work and the state has a $4 billion dollar budget deficit.
However, those issues were on hold as the Statehouse spent hours discussing abortion.
The only House lawmakers focused on jobs Wednesday, were Democrats. However, Republicans said the effort to defend life deserves some attention too.
Fired up and frustrated over anti-abortion legislation, the women of the House Democratic Caucus decried bills that would make it harder to get an abortion in Florida.
"After several minutes of heavy breathing by the man, a woman has nine months to carry that child."
Seventeen bills have been filed that would continue to keep tax money from paying for abortions, require ultrasounds before the procedure and shutdown abortion clinics not owned by a physician.
The bills come as GOP lawmakers promise to fill the $4 billion dollar budget gap and create jobs for the state's one million unemployed.
"We keep hearing about 700,000 jobs in seven years; where are the plans?"
Wednesday, nine bills were up for a vote in the House. Six were anti-abortion bills. Not one of them creates jobs.
We asked Representative Matt Gaetz if the House should be more focused on jobs. "Well I don't think the abortion bills per say are intended to create jobs. I think they are intended to recognize the fact that nothing is more fundamental than life."
We asked Governor Rick Scott the same thing. "I'm convinced that when we finish session, we've got nine days, 10 days to go; we will get the bills passed that will help get our economy going again."
On the House Floor, Republicans defended using one of the 60 days of session on abortion.
"We're spending 58 or 59 days of this session talking about session and school funding."
However, for at least one day when it came to creating jobs and limiting government, Democrats were the only ones talking