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Florida cuts flow of tax money to abortion providers

Florida Gov. Rick Scott shares a fist bump with Kennedi Beahn, a little girl with Down syndrome. Associated Press

Florida cuts flow of tax money to abortion providers

Florida became the latest state to cut taxpayer funding for abortion when Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a bill expanding abortion regulations in the state.

Lawmakers in Utah and Arizona also passed new abortion restrictions in the last week, highlighting the ongoing state-level push to protect unborn children.

Florida’s latest pro-life law gained overwhelming support in the state legislature with a 25-15 vote in the Senate and 76-40 vote in the House. Florida already prohibited state funding for abortions, but the new bill also prohibits funding for any service at a facility that also provides abortions.

The state allocates about $200,000 in Medicaid funds for sexually transmitted disease testing, pregnancy prevention, and other services offered at abortion facilities, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Pro-life advocates hope the law will reallocate the funds to pregnancy centers and federal health centers.

“The idea that those taxpayer dollars would go to an organization that performs abortions is simply intolerable,” said state Sen. Rob Bradley, a Republican.

The law takes effect July 1 and will block funds to about six abortion facilities. It also requires abortionists to obtain admitting privileges or a patient transfer agreement at a local hospital.

“Abortionists will finally be held to the same standard as all other physicians who perform invasive procedures in a non-hospital setting,” said Ingrid Delgado, associate for social concerns at the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops.

But Florida’s law likely faces a legal challenge. A court blocked Louisiana’s admitting privileges law March 4, and a federal judge permanently struck down Alabama’s admitting privileges law after issuing a temporary injunction. Declaring the law unconstitutional, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson said it would severely restrict abortion access. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, challenging the constitutionality of a similar law passed in Texas.

Despite legal losses, state legislatures continue to advance pro-life legislation, especially in the wake of the videos released last year by the Center for Medical Progress. Last week, Arizona’s legislature passed three bills regulating abortion, one of which prohibits experimentation on aborted fetal tissue.

“This is something we feel is inappropriate,” bill sponsor Rep. Eddie Farnsworth told the Arizona Daily Sun. “It doesn’t make any sense to me to support harvesting fetal tissue to try to support somebody else who is sick.”

The other two bills limit chemical abortions to seven weeks gestation and limit payroll deductions for state employee donations to abortion providers.

Meanwhile, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill Monday that requires abortionists to administer anesthesia to any woman obtaining an abortion at 20 weeks gestation or later. The law is designed to prevent the unborn baby from feeling pain.

Abortion advocates question a baby’s ability to feel pain at 20 weeks. But Laura Bunker of United Families International said the chance of an unborn baby feeling pain at that stage of development should motivate abortionists to do everything they can to prevent it.

Though other states have banned abortions at 20 weeks, Utah is the first to enact an anesthesia requirement. Montana’s legislature passed a similar bill in 2015, but the governor vetoed it.

“[Gov. Herbert] is adamantly pro-life,” said spokesman Jon Cox. “He believes in not only erring on the side of life, but also minimizing any pain that may be caused to an unborn child.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Courtney Crandell Courtney is a former WORLD correspondent.

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