Senate President Wilton Simpson on Wednesday put $2 million in funding to help low-income women obtain what’s known as Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC), birth control options that don’t have to be taken daily to work.
This is the second time in as many years that Simpson, who calls himself a “pro-life Republican,” has included funding in the state budget for the issue. The LARC funding he added in the 2021 budget was vetoed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Simpson told reporters Wednesday night he is hopeful passage of HB 5 — which makes it illegal for a woman to have an abortion after 15 weeks gestation — may be a game-changer for the Governor this year.
“I think when you consider we are pro-life, how many lives that may be saved by LARC, and remember it’s the people that cannot afford it is what this money’s for. And about half of our population may not (be able to) afford these devices and so I think that is certainly a tool that should be in the toolbox,” Simpson said. “And I am hoping that the Governor may be satisfied that we did both this year.”
The Senate President has mentioned his support of providing low-income women access to long-acting reversible contraception several times in media availability with reporters.
Simpson earlier this Session called LARC a “healthy part” of a pro-life agenda and said all women should be able to access it, regardless of income.
“I use the word opportunity a lot. If you give those young women an opportunity not to get pregnant, then they have an opportunity to go to college or start a career. Then they are 23, 24, 25 years old and less likely to fall into poverty at that point,” he told reporters at the end of January.
There are a number of different long-acting reversible contraceptives.
LARCS don’t need to be taken every day and depending on the type of LARC can be effective for anywhere between two months and 10 years. Examples of LARCs include injections, intrauterine contraceptive devices, or an intrauterine contraceptive device that releases progesterone hormone into the womb.
While his support of providing low-income women access to long-acting reversible contraception is well known, Simpson acknowledged he had not yet spoken to DeSantis about the issue.
DeSantis vetoed similar funding last year after a full-court press by the Florida Catholic Conference.
But the Senate in 2021 also killed a bill that would have prohibited a medical professional from performing an abortion if the “physician performing the termination of pregnancy knows, or should know, that the pregnant woman is seeking the termination of pregnancy solely on the basis of a prenatal diagnosis, test, or screening indicating a disability or the potential for a disability in the fetus.”