Florida Abortion Funding Ban Constitutional, Court Says
by Steven Ertelt
September 3, 2003
Miami, FL (LifeNews.com) — An appeals court on Wednesday ruled that a pro-life Florida law banning the use of Medicaid payments for so-called "medically necessary" abortions is constitutional.
Abortion advocates told the 3rd District Court of Appeals in June that the law discriminates because other Florida laws allow for taxpayer funding of "reproductive health" for mean such as Viagra and vasectomies.
However, the court disagreed and decided the state has legitimate and rational interests in protecting life and containing health care costs.
The court said women considering abortions don’t have any special protection under the equal rights portion of the state’s constitutional. Pro-abortion groups claims the law violated that section.
The abortion funding limitation is "rationally related to the legitimate government objective of protecting potential life," the court wrote.
Lynda Bell, a spokeswoman for Florida Right to Life, called the decision "wonderful” news. "Nobody wants their taxpayer dollars to go toward the killing of unborn children,” she said.
Bonnie Jones of the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York, a pro-abortion legal group, said the state did not have a right to discriminate for childbirth and against the abortion decisions of women.
But Judge Joseph Nesbitt questioned the discrimination argument.
"Isn’t that rather a silly comparison?" he asked. "Men don’t get pregnant. Only women get pregnant."
Gregorie Philo, attorney for Florida’s Medicaid administrators, said the mens services were paid for only because the state receives matching federal dollars for the rogram.
Expanded Medicaid coverage might pay for several hundred or a few thousand abortions a year in Florida with taxpayer funds. More than 85,000 abortions are performed each year in the state.
Medicaid funding limits for abortions have been challenged in Florida courts for 10 years. The Florida Supreme Court rejected a challenge to state rules on privacy grounds in 2001 without addressing the discrimination question.
The Supreme Court upheld a Congressional ban on abortion funding in 1980.
Pro-abortion groups are contemplating an appeal.
Related web sites:
Appeals Court Opinion – https://www.3dca.flcourts.org/3d02-3039.pdf