TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Senate passed a bill and a proposed constitutional amendment Thursday that would ban the use of public and insurance exchange money for abortions, with most Republicans voting in favor and Democrats against.
The amendment (HJR 1179) received 27 votes -- the minimum needed to put it on the 2012 ballot. It would ban public funding -- already prohibited by federal and state law -- and exempt abortion from the Florida Constitution’s strong privacy right.
The bill (HR 79) would exclude abortion coverage from policies obtained through insurance exchanges that states must set up in 2014 under the federal health care overhaul.
Opponents argued that both measures, which also passed the House on Wednesday, would infringe on women’s rights. Supporters often raised moral arguments against abortion.
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“We’re not talking about an appendectomy, we’re not talking about a tonsillectomy and we’re not talking about a mastectomy,” said Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Alachua. “What we’re talking about is ending a human life.”
Both measures will return to the House because of changes made by the Senate. They were parts of a package of six abortion-related measures passed in the House.
The funding bans include exceptions for rape, incest and to protect the mother’s life, but not her health. The Senate, though, added more detailed language for the mother’s life exception lifted from the federal Hyde Amendment, which also bans public funding of abortions.
The amendment’s sponsor, Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said the issues should be left to voters.
“Should Floridians be forced to pay for something that they don’t agree with?” she asked in debate. “I think the answer is no.”
Opponents argued there’s no need for the legislation because public funding already is banned by law.