In a recent interview with Ocala’s Star-Banner, Republican state Rep. Dennis Baxley touts the Legislature’s successful focus on anti-abortion measures during this year’s legislative session.
Baxley, a former executive director of Florida Right to Life the Christian Coalition of Florida, was among a handful of state legislators who pushed through abortion-related bills during the Legislature’s spring session.
Among Baxley’s successful efforts was proposing House Bill 501, which redistributes funds from “Choose Life” license plates to the Ocala-based Choose Life, Inc. Critics say the change could lead to more money in the hands of crisis pregnancy centers, which counsel women to avoid abortions.
Baxley also proposed an amendment to the Florida constitution that would prohibit taxpayer funding for abortions, except in cases of rape or incest. The state of Florida currently only pays for abortion in such extreme cases: From 2008 to 2010, the state only paid for 20 abortions that fell under those exceptions, costing $3,119 in total. A recent bill analysis by the House Judiciary Committee reported that between 2009 and 2010, Florida’s Medicaid system paid for four abortions at a cost of $534.60. The cost of advertising Baxley’s amendment, which is required by law, far exceeds how much the state has spent on abortions.
State Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood, said during debate over the bill that it was unnecessary at best, and a political maneuver at worst.
Despite its success in passing such legislation, the Legislature was criticized for spending time on social issues instead of the state’s poor economy.
Baxley, like many state lawmakers and the governor himself, emphasized jobs and the economy during his 2010 campaign and entering the session back in March.
“I don’t ever apologize for acting on foundational issues,” he said “Values issues don’t take a lot of time, but they do take a lot of guts.”
Baxley recently joined other sponsors of anti-abortion legislation at a ceremonial singing of anti-abortion bills in the governor’s mansion.