Responding to news that Gov. Rick Scott’s budget maintains taxpayer funding for the state’s controversial crisis pregnancy network and that the centers have the vocal support of at least two of her colleagues, state Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood, yesterday called the Florida Pregnancy Support Services Program part of the legislature’s “war against women,” warning, “We’re going back to the Middle Ages.”

The Pregnancy Support Services Program, begun under former Gov. Jeb Bush, provides taxpayer dollars for more than 70 often faith-based crisis pregnancy centers around the state.

Previous Florida Independent articles have revealed that these centers distribute “misleading” information about abortion and that the Department of Health, which oversees the network, offers little oversight of the scientific accuracy of the centers’ information.

The organization that prints many of the disputed brochures handed out at state-funded centers, Care Net, says its goal is to help women “facing unplanned pregnancies” choose “life and hope.” “The ultimate aim of Care Net and its network of pregnancy centers is to share the love and truth of Jesus Christ,” according to the group’s website.

So why, in a tough budget year in which the legislature is pondering cuts to unemployment benefits and Medicaid, does funding for the Support Services Program appear to be a priority?

Calling the stance “ideological,” Schwartz said the crisis pregnancy network, as well as the variety of anti-abortion bills being considered in Tallahassee, is part of the legislature’s “war against women.” The goal? According to Schwartz, “to make sure that women stay pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen.”

“To insist that a woman carry a fetus to term and to have their lives changed with the birth of children is attacking your inherent right to choose what you want for your life,” Schwartz said. “It’s a double standard that they’re going to cut a lot of things, but won’t cut this.”

When asked whether the legislature’s Democratic minority plans to push for defunding the Pregnancy Support Services Program, Schwartz said it wouldn’t make much of a difference. “Whether we fight or not,” she said, “everything is going to be rammed through.”

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