The 2017 Florida legislative session has ended without any new anti-choice legislation being passed to restrict Florida women’s reproductive freedom, for the first time in eight legislative sessions.
The reproductive rights restrictions considered this session included Florida House Bill 969. This bill provided funding for pregnancy support, but prohibited the Department of Health from partnering with organizations that provide abortion services. It must “subcontract only with providers that exclusively promote and support childbirth.”
This bill was intended to require the Department of Health to contract with not-for-profit statewide alliance of organizations to provide pregnancy support & wellness services through subcontractors; provides duties of department; provides contract requirements; requires services to be provided in non-coercive manner & forbids inclusion of religious content.
At first glance, this bill may sound beneficial. From the summary, it looks like the bill is providing support to centers focused on supporting pregnant women. However, the following directive is listed on the last page:
- Subcontract only with providers that exclusively promote and support childbirth. (Section 1.3.g.)
This meant the DOH would be prohibited from partnering with organizations that provide abortion services (e.g. Planned Parenthood). In addition, the approved organizations, “Pregnancy Crisis Centers” (or CPCs) have been known to provide misinformation about contraception and promote abstinence-only education. A study by the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology found that CPCs tend to promote misleading or inaccurate information, which “might be particularly harmful to adolescents, who might be unable to discern the quality of sexual health information.” They concluded “States should be discouraged from listing web sites as an accurate source of information in their resource directories.” Instead, the Florida Representatives are mandating the funding of CPCs, granting them a dangerous level of legitimacy.
On May 5, 2017 the Florida Senate indefinitely postponed and withdrew from consideration HB969. The legislative session has now ended.