Rick Scott signs abortion restrictions, Planned Parenthood vows to fight back

In spite of the 12,000 petitions opposing a controversial abortion bill that were delivered to his office, Gov. Rick Scott signed new abortion clinic restrictions into law Friday. 

"This cruel bill is designed to rip health care away from those most at risk," says Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement. "...In their callous zeal to pass this legislation, politicians in Florida actually suggested that women could turn to elementary schools and podiatrists to seek the essential reproductive health care they would no longer be able to access at Planned Parenthood. At Planned Parenthood, we will not stop fighting for those patients who depend on us for care."

HB 1411 requires clinic doctors to have admitting privileges or transfer agreements with local hospitals; blocks clinics from receiving Medicaid funding for preventative services like cancer screenings, STD tests and contraception; treats clinics more like surgical centers; changes Florida's definition of first pregnancy trimester; toughens restrictions on improper disposal of fetal remains; and requires the state to inspect at least half of clinic records every year.

"Abortionists will finally be held to the same standard as all other physicians who perform invasive procedures in a non-hospital setting by the requirement to have admitting privileges or a transfer agreement with a nearby hospital," says Ingrid Delgado of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, according to the News Service of Florida. "It is incomprehensible that opponents suggest the bill makes women less safe."

The law is similar to the Texas law that's currently being challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court because opponents say it places an undue burden on women. 

Florida's 24-hour abortion waiting period went into effect last month, and already local clinics are seeing the strain on their patients, says Anna Eskamani, director of public policy and field operations for the Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.

Eskamani says she met a woman who drove from Altamonte Springs to pick up her sister in Melbourne who needed to go to an abortion clinic in Orange County. After making the long journey, they were told they would have to do it all over again the next day if the sister wanted the procedure. 

"There's no way these types of bills are improving women's health," Eskamani says. "Patients come in expecting to be able to access a medical procedure without delay, and we have to tell them that the state of Florida thinks you need to go home and think about it. That's not based on any medical thought." 

Florida's new restrictions could close clinics in the state, and Eskamani believes that could also lead to the rise in self-induced abortions, which is currently happening in Texas. 

"It's a sad day for Florida's women," she says. "But we are definitely going to give it everything we've got to fight back."


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