Florida may be a great place to vacation, but it’s not somewhere you’d want to live. At least, if you’re a woman.
The Florida government has decided that women are not smart enough to decide whether an abortion is right for them without a mandated 24-hour waiting period and at least two doctors visits.
The law was initially signed into effect last June by none other than Florida Gov. Rick Scott. It was subsequently blocked, but has managed to rear its ugly head once more and passed on Feb. 26. The bill has exceptions, like in cases of human trafficking, incest or domestic abuse, for which victims are required to provide police reports or restraining orders as evidence of those situations.
Unfortunately, it’s often hard for victims of any kind of abuse to report their abuser. It could take months, or even years, for victims to admit it wasn’t their own fault, let alone have the strength to take a stand against their abuser.
A required 24-hour waiting period is far more than an inconvenience. Ever since the 1992 Supreme Court case Planned Parenthood v. Casey¸ states can restrict a woman’s access to abortion as long as it doesn’t impose an “undue burden.”
Due to a lack of funding and the increasing amount of regulation and restrictions, clinics with the ability to perform abortions are closing left and right. This means women have to drive longer distances, take time off of work and possibly pay for housing near the clinic. Don’t you think adding another 24 hours off of work in a hotel is going to put an undue burden on women, especially low-income women?
But Florida’s not like that, you say. It can’t be that bad.
On March 11, HB 1411 was presented to Scott. This bill will not only cut funding to all clinics that receive money under Title X or from Medicaid and have the ability to perform abortions — not that any state or public funding goes toward abortions due to the Hyde Amendment.
State agencies, local governments or managed care plans will be prohibited from initiating or renewing contracts with organizations that own, operate or are affiliated with any clinic that provides abortion services.
Unless, of course, all of the abortions are performed “on fetuses that are conceived through rape or incest [or] are medically necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman or to avert a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment … other than a psychological condition.”
This bill, which had its second Florida Senate reading March 8, will criminalize the disposal of fetal remains in a manner that’s not considered “proper.” It’s also redefining “gestation” and revising the term “third trimester,” extending the length of time a woman is considered to be in her third trimester.
It’s also increasing the regulations put on clinics with abortion services, similar to the 2013 Texas abortion law that closed most of the state’s clinics.
This isn’t the only thing Scott has done to weaken women’s rights. In June 2014, Scott signed a bill that prohibited abortions after 24 weeks unless the mother was in life-threatening danger. It also required a doctor to determine if the fetus was viable before the woman was allowed an abortion.
Proponents of this bill and others like it claim that it’s helping women, that it’s protecting their health. I don’t think limiting access to safe abortions is going to do anything positive for women’s health. In fact, women in Texas are resorting to border-jumping to get access to abortions.
If the Florida government wanted to help women and protect their health, it would provide easy access to sexual education, contraception and abortions — they wouldn’t be taking it away.
Pro-lifers aren’t pro-life, they’re pro-birth and anti-women. They don’t actually care about women’s health or the life of a fetus. Often, pro-lifers are anti-gun control, anti-welfare and anti-universal health care.
Like Trevor Noah said, “They’re more like comic book collectors: Human life only matters until you take it out of the package, and then there’s nothing left.”
Alissa Smith is the News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @thealissasmith or email her at AlissaS@centralfloridafuture.com.