State Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, a former executive director of Florida Right to Life the Christian Coalition of Florida, was recently named the chair of the House Health and Human Services Access Subcommittee — one of the committees that frequently consider anti-abortion legislation.

This past session, the committee considered several bills aimed at restricting access to abortion services. Baxley introduced two of the bills that were signed by Gov. Rick Scott this year.

He proposed House Bill 501, which redistributes funds from “Choose Life” license plates to the Ocala-based Choose Life, Inc. Critics say the change could lead to more money in the hands of crisis pregnancy centers, which counsel women to avoid abortions.

He also introduced an amendment to the Florida constitution that would prohibit taxpayer funding for abortions, except in cases of rape or incest. Critics of this amendment warn that, if passed, it will damage women’s privacy rights, explicitly protected in Florida’s constitution.

Baxely has touted the Legislature’s successful focus on anti-abortion measures during this year’s legislative session. He has also defended the legislature’s focus on social issues during the state’s economic troubles.

“I don’t ever apologize for acting on foundational issues,” he told Ocala’s Star-Banner. “Values issues don’t take a lot of time, but they do take a lot of guts.”

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