The Florida GOP has been on a roll lately when it comes to blocking women from access to health care, but two recent laws are facing new hurdles from the Florida Supreme Court as well as Washington.
Last year Republicans passed a law requiring a 24 hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion, but this week the Florida Supreme Court stepped in to temporarily block that requirement:
On a 5-2 vote, justices granted a stay of a lower court's order allowing the 2015 law to take effect. The Supreme Court said it would keep the stay in place while it decides whether to review the decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal.
Republicans reacted in their typical fashion, declaring this an "overreach" of the court:
In a statement responding to the ruling, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli laced into the court.
"In my opinion, this has been one of the most activist and overreaching State Supreme Courts in recent memory," said Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island. " ... It appears that several of our Justices seem to believe it is their job to invalidate any action of the legislature, regardless of the law and constitution. I do hope that our next appointees will have a better understanding and appreciation for the true role of our Courts."
Never mind that the state's abortion restrictions are an overreach themselves in that they seek to block women from seeking their Constitutional right to an abortion. As per usual, Republicans are quick to pin the label of "activist judge" on any that should disagree with them, and this ruling is no different.
Meanwhile, last month Rick Scott signed another law that restricts women's access not only to abortion, but for many women, health care in general, by essentially "defunding" Planned Parenthood, amid other hurdles. The slight of hand used for this law was going through Medicaid to block access to things like cancer screenings and regular preventive care along with abortion under the guise of not using taxpayer funds for abortion, something that never happens under the law as it is. But Scott and the GOP haven't been willing to acknowledge this in their ongoing battle against Planned Parenthood, so absent shutting them down via faux scandals that never worked, they came up with this.
Earlier this month, the Obama administration reprimanded states who seek this workaround to defund Planned Parenthood and warned them that attempts to strip Medicaid funding from the women’s health care provider is most likely illegal:
The letter, sent to each state’s Medicaid director, cautions lawmakers that “providing the full range of women’s health services… shall not be grounds for a state’s action against a provider in the Medicaid program.” In other words, the fact that Planned Parenthood provides abortion services in addition to other women’s health services is not legal grounds to cut it off from Medicaid funding. It stipulates that the only justifiable reason to remove a provider’s Medicaid funding is if that provider isn’t able to bill for or perform covered medical services.
Not to be defeated, the legislature has a backup plan:
But rather than accept defeat, Republican lawmakers are suggesting they apply for a federal waiver, despite the fact no such exemption has ever existed...]
[..Washington will hopefully refuse to grant Florida a waiver that would attack the constitutional rights of many of its citizens.
If it does go through, “The ban on Medicaid funding could have cost providers as much as $500,000 and forced some to close,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Scott's revenge against women's health care and PP has already given rise to HIV/AIDS cases in the state, and the abortion restrictions also block research on the Zika virus, which is also on the rise in Florida. Republicans in Washington are also currently blocking funding to combat the virus.
Scott and the Republicans are so determined to block women from health care they're hurting more than just women at this point. One wonders what it will take to make them sit up and take notice.