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2019 FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE REPORT

The Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates is the nonpartisan advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood health centers in Florida. In partnership with more than 739,000 activists, supporters and donors in the state, the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates advocates for access to our 21 health centers where patients receive nonjudgmental, compassionate and affordable quality care. With nearly 78% of Planned Parenthood health centers in medically underserved areas, Planned Parenthood continues to be a trusted provider for communities in need. 

For more than 45 years since the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, it’s been clear that the United States Constitution protects every woman’s right to make her own personal medical decisions about abortion. Yet politicians in Florida have made it clear they will stop at nothing to end access not only to abortion but the full spectrum of reproductive health care. 

Last year, we saw the election of Governor Ron DeSantis who vowed to sign legislation into law that would continue to limit access to critical reproductive health care services. As soon as he took office Governor DeSantis appointed three new state Supreme Court justices that could rule on the future of reproductive rights in Florida. Political observers anticipated that given the new conservative makeup of our state’s Supreme Court, lawmakers would be emboldened to introduce legislation intended to give the new court an opportunity to reverse course on previous rulings to protect Floridians’ constitutional right to privacy.

We knew this legislative session was going to be hostile for reproductive rights, but that did not stop us from fighting against attempts to restrict access to safe, legal and accessible abortion. This session we were able to defeat one of the most dangerous anti-reproductive health bills that our state has ever seen. 

This year we saw the introduction of the most extreme bill yet, the six-week abortion ban (SB 792/HB 235), which was an attempt to ban abortion altogether. At six weeks most women do not even know they are pregnant. So this bill would have taken away a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions before she knew she had a decision to make. 

We mobilized more than 70 supporters to hold a silent protest in front of a press conference hosted by the sponsors of the bill.

Despite similar bills passing in other parts of the country, here in Florida, the bill never even got a committee hearing. In addition to the six-week ban, a twenty-week ban (SB 558/HB 1345) was also introduced but failed to gain any traction. These bills are part of a nationally coordinated effort to chip away at access to abortion. We’ve seen a 62% increase in abortion bans across the country (including in our neighboring states of Georgia and Alabama). However, in Florida, neither of these bills received any committee hearings thanks, in no small part, to a heightened level of opposition from Floridians including health care professionals, patients, students and advocates.

The legislature did move a bill that would have taken away access to health care for young people. The Forced Parental Consent on Abortion bill (SB 1774/HB 1335) would have required young people to gain consent for an abortion from their parent or legal guardian. Under this unconstitutional legislation, young people who are unable to obtain consent would have to navigate the complicated legal system on their own in order to go in front of a judge and obtain a “judicial bypass” that would determine if they are “mature enough” to get an abortion. This forced parental consent legislation is opposed by health care organizations across the nation. 

This legislation would have disproportionately affected young people of color, youth from immigrant communities, young people that identify as LGBT, youth in the foster care system, and homeless youth. Young people in Florida should be supported with more information and resources, not burdened by more barriers and delays. While this bill did ultimately pass through the House, our champions waged a spirited and thorough debate before the vote. 

The bill also received one Senate committee hearing but did not see any further action. 

If this bill had passed and was challenged in the new Florida Supreme Court, it would have threatened reproductive health care throughout Florida by opening up the door to a more conservative reinterpretation of our state’s constitutional right to privacy, which has protected abortion access in our state for the past 30 years. 

Planned Parenthood will always fight to ensure that access to reproductive health care is defended – and the 2019 legislative session was no different. We deeply believe in the rights of all people — no matter who they are, where they live, or what they earn — to make their own personal decisions about their bodies, their families, and their life’s path, without political interference. This report provides an overview of the bills that the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates advocated for and against, in conjunction with our allies and supporters, during the 2019 Legislative Session.

2019 SESSION BY THE NUMBERS

40 legislator office visits by volunteers

100 people representing Planned Parenthood visited the Capitol

42 positive articles on reproductive health

17K new supporters

ANTI-REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH LEGISLATION

SB 792/HB 235 

Six-Week Abortion Ban

by Senator Dennis Baxley and Representative Mike Hill

Co-sponsors: Sens.Albritton, Broxson, Diaz, Flores, Gainer, Gruters, Hutson, Mayfield, Perrty. Reps. Altman, Bell, Beltran, Brannan, Byrd, DiCeglie, Fernandez-Barquin, Fischer, Gregory, Hage, McClain, Perez, Ponder, Roach, Robinson, Rodriguez, Sabatini, Smith, Stone,Yarborough

This legislation attempted to ban abortion as early as six weeks. It attempted to take away a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions before she would know she had a decision to make. The legislation was blatantly unconstitutional and endangered women’s health and lives by interfering with a doctor’s ability to treat a pregnant patient with a medical condition. 

STATUS: Did not see legislative action.


SB 558/HB 1345  

Twenty-Week Abortion Ban

by Senator Joe Gruters and Representative Thomas Gregory

Co-sponsors: Reps. Altman, Beltran, Byrd, Hill

This legislation attempted to ban abortion at twenty-weeks, ignoring real-life situations where it is crucial for a woman to have the autonomy to determine the best outcome in her individual case. Once again, politicians were attempting to insert themselves in the most private and personal medical decisions best left to a woman, in consultation with her doctor, her family and her faith. 

STATUS: Did not see legislative action.


SB 1774/HB 1335

Forced Parental Consent for Abortion

by Senator Kelli Stargel and Representative Erin Grall

Co-sponsors: Sens. Baxley, Bean, Harrell; Reps. Altman, Andrade, Beltran, Buchanan, Byrd, DiCeglie, Fernandez-Barquin, Fischer, Gregory, Hill, Massullo, Plakon, Ponder, Roach, Roth, Sabatini, Siriois, Williamson, Yarborough, Zika

This legislation would have required young people to obtain parental consent prior to receiving an abortion. Most young people already seek the counsel of their parent or guardian when it comes to a decision like this. If they do not, there is usually a good reason. That is why leading health and medical professionals oppose these laws. 

STATUS: The legislation passed in the House. Passed the Senate Health Policy Committee but did not advance further in the Senate.


SB 1726/HB 1171   

Parental Bill of Rights

by Senator Joe Gruters and Representative Erin Grall

Co-sponsors: Rep. Sabatini  

This legislation would have prevented young people from receiving the services they need, including wellness exams and reproductive health care, by requiring parental consent before any medical services could be provided. This bill would have disproportionately impacted young people who are homeless or in the foster care system and whose parents are unavailable to provide consent. By requiring parental consent for young people to access services like wellness exams, this legislation would have put young people at risk for a variety of serious health problems.  

STATUS: Passed two committees in the House and one in the Senate but did not advance further. 


 

PRO-REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH LEGISLATION

In addition to the attacks on reproductive health introduced during this legislative session, there were four bills that would have focused on promoting healthier lifestyles by providing access to preventive care and education. Following are bills that the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates spearheaded with champion bill sponsors.


SB 410/HB 527    

LARC Expansion

by Senator Lori Berman, Representative Tracie Davis

Co-sponsors: Sens. Cruz, Farmer, Rader, Rodriguez, Rouson; Reps. Eskamani, Geller, Joseph, Polo, Smith  

This legislation directs the Department of Health (DOH) to establish a long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) pilot program in Duval, Hillsborough, and Palm Beach counties to expand and educate communities about their birth control options. The DOH must contract with eligible family planning providers to deliver the services. 

STATUS: Was heard in two committees on the Senate side but did not advance further. Did not see legislative action in the House. 


SB 412/HB 227   

Clinic Protection Act

by Senator Linda Stewart, Representative Amy Mercado  

Co-sponsors: Reps. Cortes, Eskamani, Geller, Polo, Smith  

This legislation would have provided enhanced tools for law enforcement to use when protecting providers who are offering reproductive health care services and patients who are seeking reproductive health care services from being interfered with, intimidated or injured. In recent years there have been significant increases in reports of threats and incidents of violence against reproductive health care providers and facilities. This legislation would have provided state and local authorities with more opportunities to enforce existing law. 

STATUS: Did not see legislative action.


SB 1286   

Treatment of Sexual Assault Victims

by Senator Lauren Book  

Co-sponsors: Sens. Torres; Reps. Abruzzo, Diamond, Geller, Jenne, Richardson, Russell, Smith  

This bill would have required any licensed facility treating a survivor of sexual assault to provide the survivor with medically accurate and comprehensive information regarding emergency contraception. Providing information about emergency contraception to sexual assault survivors during their hospital visit following an assault is critical. It saves survivors burdensome additional trips to providers and pharmacies during a traumatic time.

STATUS: Did not see legislative action. 


SB 1290/HB 6057  

Repealer Bill of Unconstitutional Language

by Senator Lauren Book, Representative Anna Eskamani 

Co-sponsors: Sens. Braynon, Torres, Jr., and Rouson; Reps. DuBose, Duran, Geller, Jacobs, Mercado, Moskowitz, and Smith

This legislation would have repealed unconstitutional language from 2016 TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) legislation that attempted to defund family planning providers who provide safe and legal abortion care from offering preventive care such as birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment and other essential health care services. It would also have repealed unconstitutional language that would have jeopardized the privacy of women who have an abortion by requiring that at least 50 percent of those patient records be reviewed by state officials; a mandate not required in any other medical procedure. 

STATUS: Did not see legislative action.