Senate approves constitutional amendment making it clear public funds can't be used for abortions

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The Senate approved a bill Thursday to ban abortion coverage in policies sold through a state health-insurance exchange, which is expected to start operating in 2014., reports the News Service of Florida. House members also passed the bill (HB 97) this week. The Senate, however, tacked on an amendment, which means the House will have to vote again before the measure can go to Gov. Rick Scott. Last year? federal health overhaul requires the creation of state health-insurance exchanges in 2014. Those exchanges will serve as new marketplaces for individuals and small businesses to find coverage. The federal law bars public money from being used to buy abortion coverage through the exchanges. But HB 97, which the Senate approved 28-11, goes further by also preventing people from paying separately for abortion coverage in the policies.

Also, in what could turn into a noisy ballot fight next year, the Florida Senate on Thursday approved a proposed constitutional amendment that makes clear public funds would rarely be used to pay for abortions.The proposed amendment (HJR 1179) also would prevent the Florida Constitution from being interpreted more broadly than the U.S. Constitution when it comes to abortion issues. That is important because a privacy clause in the Florida Constitution has been used to challenge abortion restrictions.Senators voted 27-12 to support the proposed amendment, which also was approved Wednesday by the House. But a Senate change in the proposal will force the House to vote on the issue again

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.