Florida abortion law increasing restrictions
Lisa Radelet
March 1999

The number of state laws restricting abortion rights have quadrupled in the past three years, limiting women's access to abortion and endangering their health and lives, says a new report by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL).

Florida is no exception to this trend. Since 1997, when Republicans gained control of the Florida Legislature, more anti-choice bills have been passed than ever before. Luckily, some (Parental Notification, a "Choose Life" license plate) were vetoed by Governor Lawton. Chiles. Others ("Informed" Consent and a ban on so-called "Partial-birth" abortions) have been prevented from taking effect by court injunctions.

Here's a rundown of what we're facing in the 1999 Legislative Session which is currently in progress until April 30:

So-Called "Partial-birth" Abortion
A ban on so-called "partial-birth" abortions passed in 1997, but was vetoed by Gov. Chiles. In 1998, legislators overrode the governor's veto, but the ban was declared unconstitutional by the courts before taking effect. Supporters hope to draft a narrower, constitutional version this year.

Pro-choice groups oppose this ban. The bill's definition of "partial-birth" abortion (a political, not medical term), is so broad and vague that it would outlaw most abortions. The ban also endangers women by failing to provide an exception for preserving woman's health and future fertility.

Parental Notification for Abortion
Last year, the Florida Legislature passed a bill requiring that physicians notify a minor's parents 48 prior to performing an abortion. This bill was vetoed by Gov. Chiles, but is expected to be re-filed this year.

Mandatory parental involvement laws are unnecessary for the majority of teens who voluntarily involve a parent, and dangerous for those teens who cannot. This bill is also unconstitutional, based on a 1989 Florida Supreme Court decision.

"Choose Life" License Plate
This bill (HB 509) creates a speciality license plate reading "Choose Life." Organizations that offer or counsel on the full range of reproductive options, including abortion, would be prohibited from receiving proceeds from the sale of this plate.

The "Choose Life" plate passed last year, but was vetoed by Governor Chiles. Governor Jeb Bush has said he will sign it.

Abortion Clinic Licensing
A new trend around the country this year in anti-choice legislation is an attempt to regulate abortion clinics out of business.

In Florida, a bill filed by Rep. Mike Fasano would raise licensing fees for clinics, and require that physicians' offices obtain licensing as an abortion clinic if they provide even one abortion. This bill would further endanger abortion-providing physicians by making their names public.

ProActive Legislation:
In addition to fighting the above anti-choice measures, Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice groups are supporting the passage of legislation to expand women's access to family planning services.

Contraceptive Equity
As last year, PPNCF is supporting passage of the Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act (HB 371). This bill advances the radical notion that prescription contraceptives should be covered by insurance plans in the same manner in which other prescription drugs are covered (subject to the same co-pays, etc.).

This bill was introduced last year, but never made it to the floor for a vote.

Family Planning
Pro-choice/pro-family planning groups will continue to push for increases in the state budget for publicly-funded family planning programs. Currently, only 36% of women in need of publicly-funded family planning services in Florida are being served.

Please call your state legislators with two messages:
Oppose anti-choice legislation and support access to family planning.

For more information, or to get on Planned Parenthood of North Central Florida's Action Alert E-Mail list, contact Lisa Radelet at 377-3908, Ext. 15, or Lisa_Radelet@ppncf.org
Lisa Radelet is the Director of Public Affairs of Planned Parenthood of North Central Florida.

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