State Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, is the sponsor of a House bill that would amend the Florida Constitution to ban taxpayer funding for abortions. According to a recent article in the Ocala Star-Banner, the state of Florida will spend more money advertising the amendment before the 2012 election than it has on actually funding abortions.
House Joint Resolution 1179 would ban the use of public funding for abortions in Florida. Somewhat similar to the Hyde Amendment, the bill provides exceptions for rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger. Opponents of the legislation argue that the bill is unnecessary at best, and a political maneuver at worst because current Florida law already prohibits the state from funding abortions. (The state also provides the same exceptions.)
From 2008 to 2010, the state of Florida only paid for 20 abortions that fell under those exceptions. These procedures cost the state $3,119.
A recent bill analysis by the House Judiciary Committee reports that between 2009 and 2010, Florida Medicaid paid for 4 abortions at a cost of $534.60.
Interestingly, the cost of advertising the amendment far exceeds how much the state has spent on abortions for women facing a pregnancy due to rape or incest, or a pregnancy that risks their life.
The committee analysis of Baxley’s amendment reveals that the Florida Division of Elections expects to pay $106.14 per word to advertise the proposed amendment before the 2012 elections, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars. The judiciary committee’s bill analysis explains that the Division of Elections within the Department of State is “required to publish the proposed constitutional amendment twice in a newspaper of general circulation in each county.”
Despite the costs, Baxley says in the interview that the bill addresses an important issue.
“I think it’s far-reaching and it’s controversial, but we as a state will address the sanctity of life, which is a foundational issue,” he said.
HJR 1179 is still awaiting Gov. Rick Scott’s signature.