Florida's War on Women: State Passes Massive Anti-Choice Bill to Shut Down Access to Abortion and Contraception

Florida just passed a major bill that would shut down abortion clinics and take away birth control

Florida Governor Rick Scott
Photo Credit: NALEO Educational Fund/Flickr Creative Commons

Even though a law almost exactly like it is still being reviewed in the Supreme Court, the state of Florida just passed a massive anti-choice bill that, under the guise of supporting women’s health, is aimed at cutting off as many women as possible from abortion, contraception, and STI prevention and treatment services. Most of the bill is modeled after the one in Texas, the one the court is currently reviewing, which uses medically unnecessary red tape to regulate abortion clinics out of existence.

Supporters of the Texas abortion ban “flash their big anime doe eyes up toward the bench and say they are merely concerned about maternal health,” Dahlia Lithwick writes in Slate, but that’s just a “winking, pretextual shell game” to shut down access to abortion care. The same stupid, nakedly dishonest (wasn’t Jesus against lying?) game is going on in Florida.“Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, said her bill is not intended to outlaw abortion — which she admitted she would like to do, if the courts would allow it — but to end a ‘double standard’ in clinic regulation,” Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat writes. “She said doctors doing colonoscopy or liposuction have to meet higher standards than those performing abortions.”

This is unvarnished horseshit. Liposuction — which, unlike abortion, requires cutting — is 30 times more dangerous than abortionbut it’s still classified as a Level I outpatient procedure in Florida, which means that it is not subject to regulations like requiring hospital admitting privileges. In fact, and this cannot be emphasized enough, many abortions don’t even occur in the clinic. You take some pills and go home and, to be blunt, the pregnancy comes out in the toilet. This bill would require doctors to have a full surgical suite to hand out pills. That’s the level of bad faith that’s going on here.

The anti-woman, anti-sex motives behind this bill are poorly hidden, because, on top of the medically unnecessary regulations, there are also huge cuts to spending on contraception and STI services. Anti-choice legislators are using “abortion” as a pretense, only cutting funding to organizations, like Planned Parenthood, that offer abortion, as well. Similar cuts in Texas led to a massive spike in unplanned pregnancies, which, despite all their doe-eyed claims of innocence otherwise, is exactly the result anti-choicers likely seeks. After all, none of the money being cut went to abortion services. At a certain point, you have to accept that people are taking away birth control because they have a problem with birth control.

The war on women’s health care has been sleazy everywhere it’s being waged, but especially so in Florida. Over the summer, the state, using the pretext of those hoax videos making false accusations about Planned Parenthood, launched an investigation of Planned Parenthood. When investigators in the state found no evidence for accusations that Planned Parenthood was mishandling fetal remains,Gov. Rick Scott’s office literally rewrote the press release to conceal the findings clearing the organization.

The sleaze is clearly not stopping there. This bill proves yet again that conservatives will tell any lie and stomp all over  basic ethical standards in their eagerness to punish women for having sex. Unfortunately, as Gov. Scott is the sleaziest of them all, there’s almost no chance he won’t sign this into law.

Amanda Marcotte is a politics writer for Salon. She's on Twitter @AmandaMarcotte. 

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