State Sen. Nan Rich, D-Sunrise (Pic by Minority Office, via flsenate.gov)

Another attempt to strip $2 million in taxpayer funds from Florida crisis pregnancy centers failed on the Senate floor today.

State Sen. Nan Rich, D-Sunrise, introduced an amendment to the Florida Senate’s budget bill that “eliminates funding for the Crisis Counseling Program in the Department of Health and increases funding to the Family Planning Program.” She said before she explained the amendment that she was sure the majority the Senate members would not support her proposal, but she felt it was important to have a conversation about the state’s continued funding of crisis pregnancy centers, or CPCs.

CPCs are mostly religious centers that aim to dissuade women facing unplanned pregnancies from having abortions. Some of these centers have been found to distribute medically inaccurate information about abortion to women seeking help. As my colleague Marcos Restrepo wrote in October 2010, the centers receive little oversight and regulation from state agencies.

The current state budget allocates $2 million for these centers for the seventh year in a row. CPCs have not lost a dime of state funding, while other health services have suffered deep cuts under increasingly austere budgets. The centers serve fewer patients and offer fewer services than other groups that deal with women facing unplanned pregnancies, such as Planned Parenthood or Healthy Start.

Rich urged members to divert funds away from the centers because they misinform women about their options. After questioning from her colleagues, Rich explained that a congressional investigation found that CPCs around the country had misled women about abortion health information. She said the centers told women there were links between abortion and mental health, breast cancer and infertility.

“I have gone to those centers and seen misinformation,” Rich said on the Senate floor today. ”It troubles me that [this] kind of information is given to young women.”

She said she wanted the $2 million to go to family planning centers instead because those centers are “there to provide health care instead of giving misinformation … and forcing a decision on a woman.”

State Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said her colleagues should vote against Rich’s proposal because the state CPC funding “is working.” She also said the centers provide information on all options, including ”not continuing your pregnancy.”

Rich said she brought up the amendment in order to create “accountability for our tax money.”

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