When Governor Ron DeSantis slashed $3 billion from the state budget on Thursday, one unfortunate element seemed familiar: Just as he did last year, DeSantis vetoed $2 million earmarked for helping low-income people access long-acting birth control.
It was again Senate Speaker Wilton Simpson, a Republican from Pasco County, who included in the $110 billion budget. Unlike last year, however, this veto landed in the middle of a rely on reproductive rights. It came weeks after a leaked Supreme Court opinion suggested the court would overturn Roe v. Wade, and less than a month before Florida’s new 15-week abortion ban takes effect.
Stephanie Fraim, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida — which includes the organization’s clinics in the Tampa Bay area — questioned the rationale for the veto.
“Funding for this wise investment in the health of our communities has rare bipartisan support,” she said in an emailed statement. “And, thanks to President Biden, the legislature was able to pass a balanced budget with plenty of money in reserve. Withdrawing health care from the vulnerable is just another example of his continued cruelty to Floridians.
DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw did not respond to requests for comment.
Long-acting reversible contraception, the type of birth control Simpson’s proposal would have funded, refers to contraceptives such as intrauterine devices, which are commonly called IUDs and can work for a decade, and the Depo-Provera vaccine, which lasts about three months. .
Researchers to have found long-acting reversible contraception is much more effective than other birth control methods, such as pills. Florida women use IUDs and hormonal implants, as well as birth control overall, at lower rates than the national average, according to a 2020 report from the Florida Department of Health.
Simpson’s spokesperson said Friday he had no comment. The senator, whose district includes parts of Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties, has previously said his push for access to contraception and his stance against abortion go hand in hand.
“When you consider that we’re pro-life, how many lives can be saved by (long-acting reversible contraception), and remember it’s the people who can’t afford it, that’s what is this money for?” he said. says Florida Politics in March. “And about half of our population may not (be able to) afford these devices, and so I think that’s definitely a tool that should be in the toolbox.”
Low-income people who want access to birth control may be uninsured and unable to afford it, said Linsey Grove, doctor of public health at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg and President of the League of Women Voters. of the Saint Petersburg region. Even when they can get a free or inexpensive contraceptive, she says, they may face unexpected costs, such as exam fees, if a doctor wants to perform an ultrasound before placing an IUD.
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Help is needed, Grove said, and she applauded Simpson for pushing for it. But access to reproductive care cannot be based solely on the economic argument that “we want to make sure that low-income women have access to contraception, because if they have children, it’s a burden for the state”.
“It breaks my heart that this is the framework we need to use to get lawmakers to start paying attention to reproductive choice,” she said.
The fact that funding failed once again indicates the true purpose of measures such as the 15-week ban, Grove said.
“If these things aren’t supported by people who really want to reduce abortion, then I think the intent behind restricting abortion has nothing to do with women or people with wombs,” she said. “It has everything to do with control.”