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Florida Senate begins discussion on bill that could defund Planned Parenthood

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The Florida Senate is poised to vote on a controversial bill that prohibits public funding for clinics, like Planned Parenthood, that are affiliated with a licensed abortion clinic.

Lawmakers began discussions of the measure (HB 1411) on Tuesday. The proposal, sponsored by Lakeland Republicans Sen. Kelli Stargel in the Senate and Rep. Colleen Burton in the House, requires annual inspections of clinics, and calls on physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges or a written transfer agreement with nearby hospitals.

Lawmakers swatted down nearly two dozen amendments filed by Democrats. Changes included proposals to make sure clinics continued to receive federal funding; to keep financing in place for performing clinical exams and cancer detection, and to fund clinics that test and treat HIV.

“At this point in the debate I want to say something very simple: This is not a medical procedure,” said Rep. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, during debate on one of the amendments. “We’re talking about life here. There’s a solemnness and seriousness about this issue that I don’t want to be lost.”

Sen. Eleanor Sobel, a Hollywood Democrat, proposed an amendment to make sure public funding would still go to organizations that provide preventative care services to survivors of rape, incest, domestic violence or human trafficking, even if the group is affiliated with an abortion provider.

That amendment caused a stir among some lawmakers, who called it “appalling and disingenuous.”

“For anyone to get up here and say any member of this chamber is not here to help victims … it is incredibly disingenuous,” said Sen. Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican.

That amendment was withdrawn before a vote can be taken.

Senators could debate and vote on the bill Wednesday. The House voted 74-44 on Thursday to approve the bill.

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