Floridians for Reproductive Freedom today denounced Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders after Scott signed House Bill 41, which legitimizes and permanently funds with taxpayer dollars fake clinics that use medically inaccurate information to oppose abortion and judge, shame, and mislead women. HB 41 intentionally restricts women’s access to health care services by funneling public funds to providers that “exclusively promote and support childbirth,” while cutting out qualified medical providers who offer the full range of family planning services including birth control and abortion care.
“With this bill, Gov. Scott and his legislative allies are putting politics over women’s health,” said Amy Weintraub, Reproductive Rights Program Director for Progress Florida. “Under no circumstances should taxpayers be forced to pay for these fake clinics that operate with virtually no oversight and judge, shame, and mislead women.”
These clinics use deceptive and manipulative practices to stop women from having access to the full range of reproductive care – particularly birth control and abortion. To confuse women, they use deceptive practices such as intentionally placing advertisements under the “abortion services” heading of phone and Internet directories and choosing names that are similar to clinics that offer abortion services.
“These fake women’s health centers advertise free pregnancy testing and pregnancy-options education, but they oppose abortion and contraception and intentionally try to trick women,” said Annie Jae Filkowski of St. Petersburg, who experienced one of these fake clinics firsthand as a 16-year-old seeking a pregnancy test. “I struggle to understand how a legitimate health care provider could operate like this.”
In recent years, Gov. Scott and Florida lawmakers have repeatedly attacked women’s access to reproductive health care, in particular targeting access to abortion. One of these avenues of attack has been the funding of these fake women’s health centers with taxpayer dollars.
“To be clear, these fake clinics peddle falsehoods that have been repeatedly discredited by extensive scientific research and the country’s most prominent medical associations,” said Dr. Nicole Fanarjian, a Sarasota-based obstetrician and gynecologist. “And they undermine a woman’s dignity by attempting to shame and pressure her and take away her ability to make her own decisions.”
“By signing this bill, Gov. Scott is demonstrating a total disregard for the truth, undermining a woman’s right to make her own informed medical decisions and denying her the respect and dignity she deserves,” said Laura Goodhue, Executive Director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. “When a woman has decided to seek birth control or an abortion, or to discuss her reproductive health options, she deserves access to a qualified medical provider she can trust to provide her with a full range of options and services without an agenda, judgment or deception.”
Earlier this month, 13 members of the Floridians for Reproductive Freedom Coalition sent Gov. Scott a letter urging him to veto HB 41. The groups included Equality Florida, Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, Florida Interfaith Coalition for Reproductive Health, League of Women Voters of Florida, National Council of Jewish Women, Organize Florida, Pro-Choice Coalition of Broward County, Progress Florida, Broward County National Organization for Women, Broward Women’s Emergency Fund, Inc, Florida National Organization for Women, Space Coast Progressive Alliance and the National Abortion Federation.
Image source: Progress Florida