According to the “End of Session” report from the Florida House of Representatives released this week, Florida’s Healthy Start Coalitions lost $5.2 million dollars in state funding this year. Local Healthy Start coalitions provide high-quality prenatal care services for at-risk mothers and health care services for children in their communities.
The report says that this funding reduction “could result in 14,468 fewer clients served” or “252,573 fewer services provided.”
As we previously reported, crisis pregnancy centers in Florida often refer women from their centers to these Healthy Start clinics. While Healthy Start received significant cuts from the state (along with family planning aid to local governments), crisis pregnancy centers did not.
The centers are state-funded, often faith-based, centers that aim to dissuade women from seeking abortions. They have also been found to provide medically inaccurate information about the procedure to women seeking care.
Healthy Start Coalitions are ultimately receiving $27.2 million in funding to provide services this year. That represents a 15 percent cut since last year.
Linda Sutherland, the executive director for the Healthy Start Coalition in Orange County, told The Florida Independent this week that these types of cuts represent the state legislature’s short-sided view of women’s health policy, saying that funding crisis pregnancy centers while cutting family planning services are an “oxymoron.”
“If you are committed to being pro-life,” she said, “you should back it up.”
As we also reported earlier, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed additional funds last week for two local Healthy Start coalitions that were hoping to start a “nurse-family partnership” program. The project would have provided specialized care for at-risk first-time mothers.