Anthony Verdugo, Christian Family Coalition, (786) 447-6431
TALLAHASSEE, FL.-We, the undersigned duly elected members of the Florida Legislature, representing more than one million Floridians, call upon you to sign HB 1143. This common sense legislation calls for a number of important policy changes that will benefit the people of Florida.
As a result of President Obama's new healthcare reform law, for the first time ever, taxpayer dollars will go to plans that cover abortion. A Quinnipiac poll conducted last December found the public opposes taxpayer funding for abortion by a margin of 72 to 23 percent. However, specific language in the new federal healthcare reform law permits state legislatures to affirmatively opt out of offering insurance plans that cover abortions in their exchanges. While HB 1143 does not completely prohibit plans from covering abortion, it does preclude that coverage when a plan is purchased in whole or in part with federal or state subsidies, thus applying the principle of the Hyde Amendment to the Florida exchange. This addresses a significant shortcoming of health reform for Florida.
The bill also gives all women in Florida the opportunity to make an informed choice regarding an abortion, it gives them the option to view or decline the real-time ultrasound image. Currently, at least twenty (20) states have enacted some form of provision giving women the opportunity to view an ultrasound before an abortion. In fact, during the last seventeen (17) months, two Democratic governors, Kathleen Sebelius (former governor of Kansas) and Joe Manchin, governor of West Virginia, have signed ultrasound bills in their respective states.
According to a 2008 Florida Senate staff analysis, ``At least 82 percent of the licensed abortion clinics in Florida require every woman seeking an abortion in the first trimester to have an ultrasound.'' The same analysis indicated that ``the fee for the abortion includes the cost of the ultrasound'' so it is not much of a new requirement and will not raise costs. The bill's primary change to state policy is that a woman must be offered the opportunity to view the ultrasound image. While she may decline for any reason, she will have the benefit of additional information to consider prior to making a decision regarding her life and the life of her child.
Therefore, HB 1143 does not change the fact that women may receive abortions in Florida. It does ensure, however, that taxpayers won't be paying for abortions and that a woman has more information when making her decision -- information that does often change hearts and minds.
We respectfully urge you to sign HB 1143 into law.