State Rep. Lori Berman, D-Delray Beach (Pic by Meredith Geddings, via myfloridahouse.gov)

Democratic legislators joined the Democratic Women’s Club of Florida at the capitol today to denounce the Legislature’s continued “attack” on services for women and children.

State Reps. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, and Lori Berman, D-Delray Beach, held a press conference today to denounce bills they say undermine women’s health and services.

Randolph said advocates need to demand that the Legislature “stop attacking women” by cutting funds and services that benefit women and children. He also warned that lawmakers in the state are looking to ease rules for insurance companies by not requiring them to cover surgeries for cleft palates for children. He called such legislative efforts “despicable.”

Florida CHAIN, a health advocacy group, released a press release this month denouncing a House Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Quality bill that would eliminate several health insurance mandates. Among them was a partial elimination of a requirement that says “plans must cover comprehensive treatment of cleft lip and cleft palate … up to age 18,” the group wrote last week.

Berman spoke out against three abortion bills that were making their way through the Florida House. A little over a week ago a House health committee voted for three bills aimed at curbing abortion rights in the state. The three measures included legislation that would outlaw race- and sex-based abortions, a “fetal pain” bill that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks and a bill that women’s health advocates are calling an“omnibus anti-choice bill” because it contains several measures that would make it harder for women to obtain legal abortions and also make it harder for providers to offer them.

Berman said she would continue to “fight any divisive social issues” that the Legislature brings up.

Advocates at the press conference also called for the Legislature to take up the Equal Rights Amendment and restore voting rights for Floridians who were affected by a “voter suppression” bill passed last year. Pafford said a bill he introduced this session was aimed at “turning around” the effects of last year’s bill — ultimately giving more women the ability to vote, he said.

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