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Planned Parenthood to FL Lawmakers: Bring Focus Back to Women's Health

March 25, 2013

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - More than two million women and teenaged girls in Florida lack access to health care. It's a problem women's health advocates say should be a priority for state lawmakers. But in the House, lawmakers are pushing ahead with a bill that would give a non-viable embryo the same legal status as a newborn child.

Judith Selzer, vice president for public policy at the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, believes state representatives should refocus their efforts.

"It inserts politics where it doesn't belong," she charged. "Legislation should be created, not with the intent of coercing a woman, but to provide help and care to families."

Selzer said that if it is successful, the bill (HB 1129) could endanger a woman's right to seek a safe and legal abortion. Supporters of the legislation say it was written to force doctors to offer medical treatment to any infants born alive during an abortion procedure.

A report released this month by Planned Parenthood found that Florida ranks second in the country for the numbers of women and teenaged girls with HIV. Selzer thinks lawmakers should focus on the health of their citizens.

"Right now, the legislative body has a real opportunity to expand access to health care," she asserted. "Instead, they're focusing on trying to restrict women's access to health care, and we think the legislative body has their priorities wrong."

According to the Planned Parenthood report, Florida has the 12th-highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation.

Selzer said abortions represented only 4 percent of Planned Parenthood affiliate services in the state last year, with the majority being education and preventive health screenings.

The report, "Florida Women's Health at Risk," is available at youblisher.com.

Stephanie Carroll Carson/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - FL