Florida Legislature Passes Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood and Close Abortion Clinics

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 9, 2016   |   7:41PM   |   Tallahassee, FL

A bill to defund Planned Parenthood and require abortion doctors to meet certain health and safety standards is headed to the Florida governor’s desk this week.

The Florida Senate passed the bill Wednesday following the state House approval of it last week, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The bill heads to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk for signature.

Like many others introduced recently across the U.S., the bill came in response to a series of undercover videos showing the Planned Parenthood abortion business selling aborted babies’ body parts.

In Florida, the abortion group receives about $200,000 in taxpayer Medicaid funds every year, according to the report. The bill will redirect those funds to comprehensive health centers instead, the report states.

NBC Miami reports more about the legislation:

The bill requires doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, or that the clinic have a patient transfer agreement. It redefines dates of gestation and pregnancy trimesters, which affect when abortions can be performed, and increases clinic inspection requirements and licensing fees.

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Scott, Republican, has declined to say whether he’ll sign the bill. A spokeswoman said he’ll review it when it reaches his desk.

Senate sponsor Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, said the bill is about quality of care in clinics.

“It is not a bill that restricts a woman’s right to choose … It’s getting the same level of care that she would have if she walked into any other clinic,” she said.

Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, said tax money contributes to clinic operations even without paying for abortions.

“We pay their light bill, we pay their salaries, we pay all kinds of things when the state contracts with these clinics,” he said. “Let’s get Florida out of the abortion business.”

Unsurprisingly, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and many Democratic lawmakers opposed the bill. While claiming the taxpayer money does not go toward abortions, opponents of the bill argued Wednesday in the Senate that it would lead to health-threatening, self-induced or illegal abortions, according to the report.

An ACLU spokesperson told the news station they would consider challenging the legislation if it becomes law. However, the spokesperson said it would depend partly on the outcome of another Florida law that the pro-abortion legal group is challenging. That law requires women to wait 24 hours before having an abortion. In February, the 1st District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the pro-life law, allowing it to take effect, LifeNews reported.

The ACLU also could be waiting on the outcome of the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision on a Texas pro-life law that requires abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges and abortion clinics to meet the same standards as other outpatient surgical facilities. The Texas law is arguably responsible for saving the lives of tens of thousands of unborn babies by closing abortion clinics that are unable to protect women’s health.

The high court heard oral arguments on March 2 and is expected to announce its ruling in June.