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State Funded Pro-Birth Clinic Legislation Moves Forward, But Not Without Spirited Debate

November 14th, 2017 by Jake Stofan
A bill to use state funding for pregnancy care created a stir before passing through a Florida House committee Tuesday morning.
More than 45,000 Floridians were served by 105 pregnancy centers around the state in 2016.
The state’s been diving out about $4 million each year to the program, lawmakers are looking to make the funding permanent.
Part of their contract with the state forbids providers from pressuring patients with religion. Testimony before a House committee Tuesday morning suggested some clinics may not be following the rules.
“The only thing I felt would help me get out of that tiny room as fast as possible was to agree with everything that the woman was saying. “You believe abortion is a sin, right?” This woman met me five minutes ago, who was she to ask me this,” said FSU graduate student Jennifer Rodriquez, recalling her experience at a clinic.
Since the state started funding the Florida pregnancy care network, no formal complaints have been received.
In the meeting, a care provider admitted to offering religious materials and guidance to those who requested them.
“We’re going to try and encourage them to make life affirming choices, but again anybody can walk out of our office anytime they want to and no one has to come back,” said Ryan Sprague, CEO of Pregnancy Help Information Center in Tallahassee.
But he added the clinic doesn’t bill the state for those visits, which are technically allowed.
Democratic representatives say in addition to religious concerns, the centers limit the choices of women.
“We heard from a clinic provider that he doesn’t even provide contraceptive alternatives,” said Representative Lori Berman.
Bill sponsor Jackie Toledo says women looking for those options can go somewhere else.
“These centers are to promote child birth,” said Toledo.
The Florida pregnancy support services program never had to bid for state contract. If the bill becomes law they would keep it indefinitely.
The bill heads straight for the House Floor after being approved by only a single committee.

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