The first of five abortion-restricting bills passed by the state Legislature was signed into law yesterday by Gov. Rick Scott.
House Bill 97 removes coverage for abortions in health care insurance exchanges created by federal health care reform. The law provides exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and a threat to the woman’s life.
There were attempts to add broader protections for women in the bill before it went to a final vote. An amendment was introduced by state Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, in the House and an amendment was offered by Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami, in the Senate that would provide abortion coverage for women who face a “serious health risk” due to the pregnancy. Both attempts failed.
Florida is among a long list of other states that have passed a similar law. Each is similar to a failed amendment proposed by former U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. This provision to remove funding for abortions stalled the landmark legislation toward the end of negotiations. The amendment did not pass, but states were given the ability to outlaw abortion coverage if they choose.
Many states have taken advantage of this provision. Some states have even offered less protection for women than Stupak’s amendment did. For example, neither Louisiana nor Tennessee provide exceptions for rape, incest or to protect the woman’s life. Arizona and Missouri only provide an exception when the woman’s life is threatened.
Scott is expected to sign another four bills aimed at limiting abortion rights in the state.