Today, Florida Governor (and U.S. Senate candidate) Charlie Crist vetoed House Bill 1143. The measure would have prohibited an individual or group health insurance policy or health maintenance contract purchased through the state insurance exchange (required under the new federal health care law) from covering abortion except when the woman’s life or health are in danger or when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. The measure was clearly intended to preclude the use of federal or state taxpayer funds for abortion.
Arizona, Mississippi, and Tennessee have recently enacted similar laws and dozens of other states are expected to consider such measures either this year or when their state legislative sessions convene in 2011. AUL has lead the way in encouraging states to “opt out” of the abortion mandate in the new federal health care law, releasing its “Federal Abortion-Mandate Opt-Out Act” immediately following the passage of federal health care reform legislation in March.
Crist’s veto blatantly disregards the opinion of the vast majority of Americans — more than 70 percent of Americans on both sides of the abortion debate — who oppose the use of taxpayer funds for abortion.
The vetoed measure also included a requirement that a woman seeking an abortion in the first trimester — when the vast majority of abortions are performed — undergo an ultrasound and be given the opportunity to view the ultrasound images and have them described to her. Florida law currently requires such ultrasound examinations only in the second or third trimesters. The performance of an ultrasound is widely considered the “gold standard” of abortion care, helping to ensure women’s health and safety. Moreover, empowering women to request that an ultrasound examination be discussed with them ensures women’s fully informed consent for abortion and, in some cases, results in women reconsidering their abortions and instead choosing life.
Currently, 19 state have laws requiring ultrasounds before a woman undergoes an abortion or requiring that she be given the option of such an examination.