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Saturday, April 20, 2024

This is a shout-out to the ladies out there, to all of the unexpectedly adorned mothers and regretful soon-to-be baby daddies: We apologize. We apologize on behalf of our state legislature and Gov. Rick Scott, who signed the wide-sweeping anti-abortion bill into law Friday. Now our Sunshine State is on the path to joining other states, such as Texas and Mississippi, with oppressive anti-abortion legislation in circulation or already in place.

In all fairness, we at the Alligator would be more sympathetic toward such anti-abortion sentiment if it were framed in moral, ethical terms. But this is not the case by any means. Scott and our state legislature argue that this law is designed to protect women with new safety rules, but we challenge anyone to read its text and find a provision that seeks to genuinely protect women’s safety.    

Amid the questionable language of this law lies the requirement of physicians who perform abortions to obtain “admitting privileges” at the nearest hospital to their clinic. Now this sounds like a reasonable protection: If something goes horribly wrong during the operation, the woman should be taken to the nearest hospital through this registered physician.

But because hospitals generally avoid connections with potential abortion politics, most deny abortion providers’ applications for admitting privileges. The effect? You get what we saw in Texas, where the number of abortion clinics dropped from 41 in 2012 to 18 in 2015, after the state passed similar “admitting privileges” legislation.

Adding insult to injury, Scott’s new law mandates the state will only fund abortions for women who face severe medical consequences from continuing the pregnancy or who became pregnant as a result of rape or incest, which is particularly concerning to us. Not only does this greatly reduce access to a medical service permitted by

U.S. law, but it also greatly disenfranchises low-income women with limited health care options.

How ironic for Scott, the self-appointed champion of small government, to push forth such wide-sweeping legislation on individual liberty without a single vote cast by his constituents. What’s up with that? Government is supposed to be small and keep its nose out of individuals’ lives, but if the issues at hand concern women’s health and bodies, the government might just have to step in and micromanage the entire process?

We’re disappointed. For no other reason than the political agenda of our state’s lawmakers, our state is being cast into the same anti-abortion wind sweeping over southern states and undermining millions of women’s rights to choose. To quote comedian John Oliver, “Abortion can’t just be theoretically legal, it has to be literally accessible.”

Now, not all is necessarily set in stone. In June 2015, after Scott signed into law a 24-hour mandatory waiting period for women pursuing the procedure, Florida Chief Circuit Judge Charles Francis shut the law down, claiming it violated rights to privacy. At this point, any action to prevent this law would have to come from a similar third party before it comes into effect on July 1 — and to think we could’ve enjoyed a nice, politics-free Fourth of July weekend.

It’s a good thing President Obama is normalizing relations with Cuba, because if this trend continues, American women may have to raft 90 miles south of Key West just to find a safe abortion — something that is supposed to be available and accessible to them by law.

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