NARAL Pro-Choice America, a national reproductive rights group, today released a report analyzing the “state of women’s access to reproductive health care” around the country. Florida received an “F” overall for the policies it enacted in the last year.
According to the report (.pdf), “Arizona, Florida, and Kansas enacted the most anti-choice legislation in 2011, with five measures each.” In total, the group reports that “67 anti-choice measures” were enacted around the nation in 2011.
Among the slew of bills written to make it harder to access a legal abortion in the state, the report also noted that Florida expanded “refusals” for reproductive health services in Medicaid this year. NARAL says that “two states enacted two measures modifying existing laws that allow certain individuals or entities to refuse to provide women-specific reproductive-health services, information, or referrals.” Those two states were Florida and Utah.
“Florida’s new law expands the state’s contraception refusal law and now allows managed-care plans to refuse to provide family-planning services,” the group writes.
As I reported in April of last year, legislators slipped an amendment into the state’s Medicaid privatization bill that allows any “religious or moral” objector to opt-out of providing family planning services. In the past, only religious employers were exempt. This “refusal clause” is broader than most national policies, and was added at the request of Catholic Services.
Planned Parenthood eventually warned a state agency about the provision, claiming that it could restrict access to a federally required service.
On Florida’s scorecard for the year, NARAL also noted:
- Florida has unconstitutional and unenforceable criminal bans on abortion.
- Florida law subjects women seeking abortion services to biased-counseling requirements.
- Florida restricts insurance coverage of abortion for some individuals.
- Florida restricts low-income women’s access to abortion.
- Florida law restricts young women’s access to abortion services by mandating parental notice.
- Florida subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions not applied to other medical professionals.
Lastly, the group pointed out that, “72 percent of Florida counties have no abortion provider.”
Florida lawmakers have already filed nine bills that further restrict reproductive rights.