Florida House Attacks Abortion Access
March 2, 2012
Last night, I issued the following statement on the passage of a Florida House bill that aims to reduce access to abortion care in the state:
The Florida legislature is launching an all out attack on abortion providers and the reproductive health care of Florida women and their families. Today, the Florida House passed H.B. 277, which aims to make abortion care less accessible and disrespects a woman’s ability to make her own health care decisions.
H.B. 277 would require a woman seeking abortion care to make at least two trips to a health center and wait 24 hours after her first visit to obtain abortion care. This requirement will make it harder for some women to access the abortion care they need—especially those that have difficulty scheduling more time off work, arranging child care, or traveling to the clinic. Women carefully consider their options before they make an appointment and visit a clinic; they do not need to be subjected to a state-mandated waiting period before they can obtain care.
This bill also requires doctors to tell patients medically inaccurate information. Under H.B. 277, doctors would be required to tell patients that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks, even though leading international experts such as the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have found that this statement is not true and not supported by credible scientific evidence. Women deserve the facts about their health care, not misinformation aimed at dissuading them from choosing abortion care.
Additionally, the legislature is trying to limit the number of health centers that provide abortion care by mandating that they be wholly owned and operated by a physician. This provision is entirely unnecessary and not related to the safety of care provided at an abortion facility. Abortion is already one of the safest medical procedures provided in the U.S. This provision could require an unnecessary change in ownership for an existing facility that wants to move buildings or that is forced to relocate due to an act of violence like an arson. There have been 14 arsons of reproductive health care facilities in Florida—one just earlier this year. More doctors who provided abortion care have been murdered in Florida than anywhere else in the U.S., and Florida legislators should be mindful of how H.B. 277 could increase harassment and violence targeting abortion providers.
H.B. 277 also contains a provision requiring physicians to complete three hours of continuing medical education each year in ethics. Physicians already attend continuing medical education sessions to stay current with the latest research in the field. To single-out abortion providers for mandated education in ethics is insulting to doctors that already provide high-quality, ethical abortion care.
This is not the way the Florida legislature should be spending the final days of their session. We urge Floridians to contact their state Senators and tell them to oppose this politically-motivated bill.