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Planned Parenthood names five ‘states at risk’ in the coming election

Planned Parenthood has included Florida in its list of “states at risk” for the upcoming election. Only four other states (Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Ohio and Texas) are included on the list.

A pro-Planned Parenthood rally in New York City (Pic by WeNews, via Flickr)

The list is part of Planned Parenthood’s new “Women are Watching” campaign, which was created by the political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. As Sofia Resnick of The American Independent has reported, the campaign is “a social-media project intended to educate and engage Planned Parenthood supporters throughout the country.”

The site explains that Florida is particularly risky for women because “the state legislature and Governor Rick Scott have mounted a full-scale, nonstop attack on women’s health in Florida.”

“During the 2011 session,” the site explains, “politicians filed 18 anti-choice bills limiting women’s access to the full range of reproductive health services, spent more than two months of the legislative session debating abortion restrictions, and passed four bills into law.”

The website highlights a couple incidents this past year that were unpopular with women’s health advocates.

Included in Planned Parenthood’s summary is:

  • “Lawmakers wasting 59 days debating abortion restrictions” during the legislative session.
  • Lawmakers “censoring officials from using the term ‘uterus’ on the legislature floor.” Last session, state Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, suggested that his wife “incorporate her uterus” in the hopes that it may receive the same kind of privacy and protection as Florida businesses receive. Some of Randolph’s colleagues were upset with Randolph’s use of the word “uterus.” The reaction from GOP memebers of the Legislature prompted an Internet response from women’s health advocates and the ACLU of Florida. Randolph’s incident even caught the eye of The Rachel Maddow Show.
  • Gov. Rick Scott hosting “a party at the governor’s mansion when he signed four abortion restrictions, calling it a way for anti-choice activists to ‘celebrate the accomplishments.’” State Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, called Scott’s signing ceremony for four bills aimed at curbing abortion rights in the state an effort to “ingratiate himself with zealots.” Scott invited representatives of anti-abortion groups, as well as some of the more socially conservative members of the Legislature, to the event.
  • Lawmakers “filing bill after bill in preparation for the session starting in January 2012, including proposed regulations that would make it nearly impossible to open and operate health centers that provide comprehensive reproductive health care such as lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, STI testing and treatment, and abortion care.” A bill that women’s health advocates are calling an “omnibus anti-choice bill” was recently introduced.

Planned Parenthood also highlights a measure set to appear on the 2012 ballot and another possible ballot initiative. According to the group, the “Florida Legislature bypassed Floridians by voting to put an anti-women’s health bill on the ballot in the 2012 election.”

“Currently,” the group explains, “the Florida Constitution contains stronger privacy rights than the United States Constitution. But Florida’s 2012 ballot initiative would amend the state constitution to deny women fundamental privacy rights, denying them the privacy rights they currently have and should continue to have.” The amendment was introduced by state Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, who also introduced the current “omnibus anti-choice bill.”

“If that weren’t enough,” the group says, “Florida is also likely to face a so-called ‘personhood‘ amendment in 2012.”

The Independent’s Virginia Chamlee has reported that Bryan Longworth, the head of Personhood Florida, said he is undeterred from his goal of placing a “fetal personhood” amendment on Florida ballots, despite the sound rejection of a similar initiative in Mississippi last week. Personhood amendments seek to “elevate the legal status of a fertilized egg to that of a living person, and effectively ban abortion, common birth control methods, and in vitro fertilization,” Planned Parenthood explains. According to Longworth, his group is actually now attempting to place its amendment on Florida’s 2014 ballot.

Planned Parentood says that Florida “got here” because of the 2010 midterm elections, which they claim “worsened the political environment for women by creating a Republican supermajority in the Florida Legislature.”

The page also highlighted that $2 million in state tax money is “directed to crisis pregnancy centers that provide no health services to women.” Crisis pregnancy centers, or CPCs, are mostly religious centers created to dissuade women from having abortions. Some Florida centers were even found to distribute inaccurate information about abortion to women seeking help. The state’s funding of a network of crisis pregnancy centers has remained constant at $2 million since 2005, even as women’s health services suffer budget cuts.

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