Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott has signed into law a bill that effectively defunds the state’s Planned Parenthood clinics and slaps new restrictions on abortion providers.
Scott did not provide comment on the bill, signing it among 68 other laws on Mar. 25. The legislation was passed by the Republican-controlled Florida legislature in early March, Reuters reports, prompting a $100,000 ad campaign from Planned Parenthood urging Scott to veto.
Florida Family Policy Council president John Stemberger has praised the newly signed law as “a historic victory.”
Taking effect on July 1, the law will strip funding of Planned Parenthood and other clinics that provide abortion services as well as enforce more annual inspection of women’s health clinics.
During debate over the bill in the state legislature, defenders of the bill said that Florida women would be able to seek health services at alternative centers such as dentists, optometrists, and elementary school nurse offices, The Guardian reports.
The measure has left many Florida women worried about the quality of services for female-specific health care.
“I don’t understand how they put this list together,” said student Kheyanna Suarez of Florida Atlantic University. “A dental office, a Salvation Army, and elementary school - I can’t go and get care at those places… I don’t think an elementary school can prescribe me birth control.”
Chief medical officer Chris Estes of Planned Parenthood of south, east and north Florida blasted the legislation as anti-women.
“What this would do is take away funding for programs that are primary care,” Estes said. “There’s this belief that if they pass defunding bills, we’ll suddenly disappear, and that’s not the case… this will only affect women who count on us to provide free and reduced cost services.”
Executive director Howard Simon of the ACLU of Florida slammed Scott for signing the bill, accusing the governor of hypocrisy.
“He claims to be for small government, pro-freedom and opposed to putting government in between people and their doctors — except when it comes to Florida’s women,” Simon said.
The law is expected to be challenged by women’s health clinics in court.
Meanwhile, on Mar. 29, Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill that would have had similarly defunded the state’s abortion providers, The Virginian-Pilot reports.
“I am very proud of my strong record on reproductive rights… We will not tolerate socially divisive issues that put walls up,” McAuliffe said.