Yesterday, Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, voted down an amendment in a Senate budget committee that would have provided more protection for women seeking an abortion whose life is threatened by a pregnancy.

The Senate committee was considering an amendment that would allow pregnant women who face a “serious risk” to their health to receive insurance coverage for an abortion. The amendment was attached to Senate Bill 1414, which greatly limits abortion access for women who receive health insurance from the health care exchanges set up by the the federal health care reform law passed last year.

Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami, sponsored an amendment that provides an exception to the ban for cases of rape, incest or if the pregnancy is a “serious risk” to the mother’s health.

Senate Bill 1414 is similar to the failed Stupak Amendment that almost stalled federal health care reform last year. Similar legislation is being passed at a state level all over the country. Some states, however, are proposing more extreme measures by not allowing exceptions to this ban for cases of rape, incest or a threat to the mother’s health.

Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Nassau, said that Margolis’ amendment was “too broad” and could possibly justify exceptions that are beyond those stipulated in the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment provides exceptions for cases of rape, incest or a threat to the mother’s health. Margolis argues that her amendment was, indeed, the same as the Hyde Amendment.

Once the amendment came to a vote, every one of the few women who sat on the committee, save Flores, voted “yes.” However, they were outnumbered by their male counterparts who placed “no” votes.

Flores has voiced strong opposition throughout this session on the subject of public money funding abortions. This year she sponsored a state constitutional amendment that would ban public funding for abortions. She also led the charge to reintroduce the mandatory-ultrasound bill after it was vetoed last year by then-Gov. Charlie Crist.

Margolis’ amendment failed. However, at the end of the long budget committee meeting, Margolis introduced an amendment that tightens the language to provide exceptions for “rape, incest… and physical illness, including an endangering physical condition arising from the pregnancy itself. And would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion was performed.”

The bill passed with the amendment. Sens. Arthenia Joyner, Evelyn Lynn and Nan Rich cast “no” votes on the abortion-restricting legislation.

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