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Lisa Montelione blasts opponent Shawn Harrison’s anti-abortion House vote

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Florida House of Representatives candidate Lisa Montelione is criticizing her opponent, incumbent Representative Shawn Harrison, for his “direct attack” on women’s health.

Harrison was one of nine Republicans in the House to vote for House Bill 1411 in the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee. The bill would block public funding to any health care facilities that also provide abortions.

“Yesterday’s vote by Shawn Harrison was a direct attack on health care access for the women of Florida and is part of a long list of anti-woman policies that the Republicans in the Legislature in Tallahassee have made a centerpiece of their policy agenda,” Montelione said.

Federal law already prohibits clinics and health centers from using public dollars for abortions. However, some clinics, like Planned Parenthood, can use public financing for other health services.

Opponents have dubbed bills like these “Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers,” or TRAP laws, arguing they are unnecessary and cause many clinics to close their doors.

“This mean-spirited and possibly unconstitutional piece of legislation would deny thousands of Florida women, many of them low-income, the vital medical care and family planning services that are essential to living healthy lives,” Montelione said.

Such laws are particularly harmful to women living in rural areas where facilities are limited. Closing clinics in those areas often means women have to travel long distances for health services. An effort approved by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Rick Scott last year would have made this bill even more onerous to low-income women in rural areas seeking abortions by imposing a 24-hour wait period requiring them to either travel twice to a clinic or stay the night where it’s located. A judge blocked that law.

“Whether it is intruding into a woman’s doctor’s office, failing to pass legislation guaranteeing equal pay for equal work, or denying women paid family leave to care for their children, it is clear that Shawn Harrison and his Republican colleagues in Tallahassee don’t have the best interests of Florida women at heart,” Montelione said.

Montelione is currently serving her second term as a Tampa City Councilmember. She serves as chair of the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Committee and as Vice-chair of Tampa’s Community Redevelopment Agency.

Montelione is running as a Democrat against Harrison. Another Democrat, Mike Reedy, is also running for the seat. Montelione has raised about $14,000. Reedy brought in about $16,000. Either candidate will have an uphill funding battle unseating Harrison, who raised more than $100,000 for his re-election campaign.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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