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Florida Bill Further Restricts Abortion Access

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March 24, 2015

A lot of crazy stuff comes out of Florida. We even have a Twitter called “Florida Man” for all those ridiculous headlines (“Florida Man Seen Riding Around Town With Iguanas Duct-Taped to Bicycle;” “Florida Man Steals $85,000 Worth of Pizza Cheese”).

But in the past few weeks, the crazy stuff that’s been happening is more sigh-inducing than laugh-worthy. Florida has banned using the terms “climate change” and “global warming” by state employees. A discriminatory transgender “bathroom bill” has passed a second House committee. And passed by the House in the last week: a bill that would require a waiting period before having an abortion.

According to the Florida House of Representatives, HB633 “revises conditions for voluntary and informed consent to termination of pregnancy.” The bill was approved by the House on March 12 and is now being seen by the Health and Human Services Committee.

Currently, healthcare providers performing abortions need to get the patient’s informed consent before the procedure. According to RH Reality Check, this includes “explaining to the woman any risks of the procedure and an estimated gestational age of the fetus based on an ultrasound, the images of which must be offered for viewing by the woman.”

The healthcare provider also has to give the patient “printed material prepared by the state government.” This includes information on fetal development, information on health during pregnancy and after birth, as well as a list of crisis pregnancy centers in the area.

Right now, healthcare providers just have to get the written consent from a patient after they give them this information. HB633 proposes having providers give this information at least 24 hours prior to the procedure—oh, and you can’t give the information through phone, email, or other remote methods.

What does this mean? It means that people who want to have an abortion need to visit the clinic twice. It means that people would need to take two days off of work, instead of just one. It means that people who have to drive to a clinic would need to either find lodging (read: pay for a hotel), or pay twice as much for transportation costs. It means that people need to pay for two days of childcare services.

It affectively means less access to abortions and reproductive rights.

I’m very lucky. Right now, I live about a 10-minute drive away from the closest abortion clinic. I have a car that I can use to drive myself. I have coworkers who, even if I couldn’t get both days off from work, would gladly pick up my shifts.

All this means is that I have a lot of privilege that many people seeking abortions may not have.

If someone works a minimum-wage job with no time off, it might be impossible for them to request one day off of work, let alone two consecutively.

In 2011, there were 88 abortion providers in Florida, although that number is dropping. That’s a large number compared to many states that only have one clinic. But still, 73% of counties had no clinic, and 22% of women in Florida lived in these clinic-less counties.

So if a person seeking an abortion has to travel, which could mean a multi-hour trip on public transport both ways, having to make this trip two times could effectively make it impossible for them to have an abortion.

Oftentimes when regulations like this are proposed, it can be hard to make a big deal out of them. Abortion is still legal in Florida and compared to many other states, we still have a lot of access to many clinics.

But this bill will affect someone. This bill will stop someone from seeking the medical care that they require, whether for physical, emotional, financial or personal reasons.

It is not up to lawmakers to decide who can have an abortion—which they are affectively doing by restricting abortions for those who do not have the privilege of time, transportation, childcare, etc.

Rep. Jennifer Sullivan of Eustis, the bill’s sponsor, said that “she filed the bill to make sure women don’t rush into getting abortions.

Most people seeking abortions aren’t rushing into anything—they’re carefully considering their options, they’re deciding what’s best for them. And that’s something that politicians will never be able to do.

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