Thursday, June 24, 2010

Privacy Victory for Florida Women!

This may be a little behind the times, but it’s never too late to share good news. On June 11th, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed the controversial ultrasound abortion bill. In late April, anti-choice Florida legislators amended H.B.1143 which previously had no relevance to reproductive rights, to include a mandatory-ultrasound requirement. The bill would have required a woman seeking an abortion to receive an ultrasound and an oral description of the ultrasound images before undergoing the procedure except in cases of rape, incest or domestic violence. In addition, the bill would have required women to shoulder the cost of the ultrasound, ranging from $150-$1500.

NARAL Pro-Choice America mobilized activists in Florida, sending more than 1,200 messages to Gov. Crist urging him to veto this unprecedented anti-choice legislation. NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan applauded Crist’s decision, stating that "Gov. Charlie Crist did the right thing by listening to the pro-choice majority in Florida and vetoing this anti-choice bill that the state legislature rammed through at the last minute.” In a letter explaining his veto, Crist explained that the bill would place “an inappropriate burden on a woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy.”

The insertion of such amendments is a prime example of anti-choice politicians’ willingness to disregard women’s health in order to gain political standing without thinking of the real-world ramifications of their actions. “Floridians, like most Americans, are tired of lawmakers using women's reproductive health as a bargaining chip”, says Keenan. Anti-choice advocates introduce hundreds of state bills each year and mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking an abortion is an increasingly popular trend. Anti-choice politicians in Maryland eagerly jumped on the bandwagon and introduced ultrasound legislation in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Thankfully, our pro-choice allies held strong and none of the bills passed. 

But if the past is any indicator, anti-choice activists will continue to live by the adage “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.” Although the ultrasound bills were successfully defeated in Maryland and Florida this time around, it’s crucial that pro-choice activists mobilize quickly if these bills are introduced again.

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