Florida Gov. Scott Signs Bill to Not Fund Abortion in Obamacare

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 3, 2011   |   11:19AM   |   Tallahassee, FL

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed the first of several bills he is expected to sign that put new limits on abortion in place. The first bill he’s signed makes it so the state doesn’t have to pay for abortions under Obamacare.

The Florida legislature approved legislation that prohibits the state exchanges created under Obamacare from paying for elective abortions unless in cases of rape or incest or the woman’s life is in danger. The bill would have Florida join a list of other states to use the provision in Obamacare to opt out of abortion funding, allowed by numerous loopholes and a lack of an abortion funding ban in the legislation.

Sen. Stephen R. Wise, a Jacksonville Republican, sponsored the bill and it would block policies that include abortion if public money is involved as either a subsidy for the person who is shopping for coverage or a business tax credit.

During consideration of the bill, Stephanie Kunkel of Planned Parenthood opposed the measure to stop taxpayer funding of abortions.

Under the new health care law, states will be in charge of their own health care exchanges that are available for individuals and small businesses. The exchange doesn’t go into effect until 2014 and states are filing lawsuits seeking to stop the pro-abortion health care bill in its other pro-abortion provisions entirety, but states are moving now to exercise their right to opt out of some of the abortion funding.

Denise Burke, an attorney with Americans United for Life, has explained the opt out clause contained in the Obamacare bill, which otherwise fails to contain sufficient limits on abortion funding.

“Specifically, the new law prohibits health insurers participating in the state-run health insurance exchange (scheduled to go into effect in 2014) from offering plans or policies that cover abortions except in rare cases in which the mother’s life is in danger,” she said.

When Congress passed the government-run health care bill, it did so without any limits on abortion funding and language mandating taxpayer financing of abortion in certain circumstances.

Obama eventually issued a controversial executive order supposedly taking the abortion funding issue off the table.

However, virtually every pro-life group said it would not mitigate the abortion funding because it doesn’t have the effect of law, could be reversed in the future, and because it didn’t tackle much of the abortion funding in the bill. The Obama administration could also ignore the order and not put it in place when the health care law goes into effect.

So far, 12 states have approved legislation opting out of the Obamacare abortion funding, including Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia. The governor of Oklahoma vetoed similar legislation.

The Florida legislature also approved several other bills Scott is expected to sign:

Ultrasound prior to an abortion (CS/HB 1127)This bill passed last year and was vetoed by former Governor Charlie Crist. It would require doctors giving an abortion to conduct an ultrasound to determine to the age of the baby being aborted. While the ultrasound is being performed, the doctor must explain the images to the mother. The sponsor, Rep. Liz Porter (R), is a first year member from Lake City, Florida. We appreciate her willingness to take on this issue in her first legislative session. The bill passed the House 81-37.
Prohibition of abortions after viability (CS/CS/HB 1397) – This bill would extend the prohibition on 3rd trimester abortions that currently exists in Florida statute to also prevent abortions after the child is viable or able to live outside the mother’s womb. Rep. Rachel Burgin (R) is the House sponsor of this bill. This bill passed the House 79-36.
Choose Life license plate (HB 501) – The Choose Life license plate is a popular license plate in Florida that allows Floridians to help support agencies that promote adoption in their home counties. Unfortunately, not all of the money collected from the sale of the license plate in the state has been making to those worth agencies. Last year, almost half of the $750,000 collected by the state remained in the trust fund at the end of the year. This bill will send the money collected to Choose Life Inc, which will distribute the funds to worthy agencies around the state in a timely manner. This will ensure the money gets into the hands of those who can use it to assist mothers placing children for adoption. Rep. Dennis Baxley (R) is the House Sponsor of this bill that passed 82-35.
Public Funding of Abortion (CS/HJR 1179) – This bill gives Florida voters the right to decide whether we should constitutionally ban the use of state or public dollars to fund abortions. If it passes both chambers, it will go on the ballot in 2012 for the voters to consider. If 60 percent of Florida voters approve it, this prohibition would be enshrined in the Florida Constitution. This bill, also sponsored by Rep. Dennis Baxley (R), passed the House 82-35. It was brought up in the Senate and they amended the bill to allow for state funding of abortions when the life or health of the mother was endangered. With this amendment, the Senate passed the bill 27-12 and sent it back to the House. Because the bill was changed in the Senate, the House will have to reconsider the bill this week and take another vote.
Public Funding of Abortion (CS/HB 97)Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), states are required to establish insurance exchanges through which citizens and small businesses would be able to purchase insurance. The law allows the states to “opt out” of providing insurance for abortions through these exchanges. This bill is Florida’s opt out bill and would continue the long standing policy of not using public money to fund abortions. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) passed the House 80-37. The Senate amended the bill to allow for abortions to protect the health of the mother and then passed the bill 28-11. With the changes, the House will have to vote on the bill again this week.
Parental Notification of Abortions (HB 1247)Florida’s parental notice of abortion law has been in effect since 2005.  To protect minors in extreme situations, the original law created a path through the court that a minor could take to avoid informing their parents before an abortion. This bill makes changes to the bypass process to ensure parental involvement in these decisions unless it would not be in the best interest of the child. Rep. Kelli Stargel (R) sponsored this bill which passed 82-35.
ACTION:  Thank Governor Scott at https://www.flgov.com/contact