New Florida law targets abortion clinics

Licensed abortion clinics face more restrictions, less funding


MIAMI – Licensed abortion clinics in Florida face more restrictions and some of them less funding, after Gov. Rick Scott signed a controversial bill into law Friday. 

The law, which goes into effect July 1st, increases regulations and blocks state funds from abortion clinics -- although federal law already blocks funds for abortions. 

While supporters of the new law said the restrictions are meant to protect women, opponents said the law also creates more obstacles for uninsured women to get life-saving screenings. 

"The bill aims to deprive some of the state's poorest women of basic health care such as access to contraception, cancer screenings or testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases," The Orlando Sentinel's Beth Kassab said in a column published Friday afternoon

Women who are pro-choice fear that the law will just make it more difficult for them and other women to get an abortion in Florida. Pro-life activists said they want to make it difficult for women to undergo abortions in Florida. 

Before this new law, women who chose to undergo an abortion in Florida, were already required to undergo an ultrasound, see their doctor again to sign a form confirming they viewed the image and wait 24 hours before terminating their pregnancy.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida had a pending appeal over the waiting period, which went into effect last month, and vowed to take the case to the Florida Supreme Court.  

"The Florida constitution does not tolerate a law that allows politicians, rather than a woman and her doctor, to determine when a woman can have an abortion," said Nancy Abudu, ACLU of Florida's legal director. 

Defenders of the new law said Scott promised to redirect funds to health centers and private physicians that were willing and able to provide comprehensive health care services to women. They also defended the new regulations for abortion clinics requiring them to have admitting privileges or a transfer agreement with a nearby hospital. 

"Abortionists will finally be held to the same standard as all other physicians who perform invasive procedures in a non-hospital setting," The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ingrid Delgado said. "It is incomprehensible that opponents suggest the bill makes women less safe."

The new bill no longer allows Planned Parenthood clinics to get state funding. It also bans the transfer, sell or purchase of fetal remains and punishes the failure to properly dispose of them as a first-degree misdemeanor. 

Scott ordered the state health agency to investigate Planned Parenthood clinics, after anti-abortion activists in Florida were outraged over videos showing Planned Parenthood officials in other states negotiating the transfer of fetal tissue. 

Planned Parenthood is disputing citations claiming three clinics performed abortions after the first trimester, which the new law defines as 11 whole weeks after fertilization. 

Supporters of Planned Parenthood said the new Florida law is similar to a law in Texas requiring that doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals and therefore limiting women's access to clinics that will be forced to close without such access. The dispute over the Texas law is now before the U.S. Supreme Court



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