The Florida city of St. Petersburg will not force taxpayers to fund travel for elective abortions after a city council vote Thursday.
The Tampa Bay Times reports the St. Petersburg City Council rejected a proposal to give $50,000 to the Tampa Bay Abortion Fund to pay for abortion travel expenses after state lawmakers warned the action would be illegal. The vote was 2-6, with Council members Richie Floyd and Deborah Figgs-Sanders voting in favor.
Polls consistently show strong public opposition to taxpayer-funded abortions, and Florida law prohibits local governments from using tax dollars to support killing unborn babies in elective abortions. State Reps. Berny Jacques, R-Seminole, and Mike Beltran, R-Riverview, pointed to the law in a letter to the city council last month, according to the report.
“We just hope the city of St. Petersburg will make the right decision here,” Jacques said Thursday during a pro-life protest before the meeting. “Protection of the unborn will always be my business.”
Although the council did reject the abortion funding, the city leaders also voted 6-2 in favor of a resolution supporting “the rights of pregnant people to bodily autonomy,” including elective abortions, Bay News 9 reports. Council members Ed Montanari and Gina Driscoll voted against the resolution.
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The resolution criticizes the life-saving work of pro-life pregnancy resource centers and ignores the existence of unborn babies, who are unique and living human beings from the moment of conception. “People have a basic human right to medical treatment … including abortion,” it states.
The city council listened to several hours of public comments about the pro-abortion proposals before the council voted, many of them from pro-lifers opposed to both actions, according to the local news outlets.
Meanwhile, on Monday, the Florida Senate passed a heartbeat bill that could protect tens of thousands of unborn babies from abortion every year. Along with banning most elective abortions after the baby’s heartbeat is detectable, the bill also provides funds to help pregnant and parenting mothers.
The legislation, which appears likely to pass, has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives every year in Florida. There were 82,192 abortions reported in 2022, according to state health statistics.
Additionally, the bill would provide $25 million to help pregnancy centers expand resources to pregnant and parenting families in need. An additional $5 million would go to the state family planning program to provide contraception to low-income individuals.
Republicans control the state legislature, and Gov. Ron DeSantis, a pro-life Republican, has promised to support legislation to restrict abortions and protect babies in the womb.
A March poll by Ragnar Research found 62 percent of Florida voters support legislation to protect unborn babies from abortion once their heartbeat is detectable.