A bill that would allot up to $4,000 annually to Jacksonville city employees for travel for reproductive health procedures got a hearing in a second City Council committee Monday, and is now poised for withdrawal.
The legislation, sponsored by Democrat Reggie Gaffney, would allow travel for procedures not offered legally in Florida, specifically late-term abortions. Florida bans termination of pregnancy after the 15th week of gestation.
The Transportation, Energy, and Utilities Committee was the second of four committees slated to hear it, and the second committee to dismiss the legislation from Gaffney, who introduced it as he runs for the Democratic nomination for a state Senate seat.
TEU took up the bill just hours after a unanimous vote to withdraw the bill by the Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health & Safety committee, with Gaffney insisting on a hearing of the bill despite the City Council’s demonstrated resistance to considering the measure.
The committee did take up the emergency motion to discuss the bill, with Republican Danny Becton saying that he had problems with the “disrespectful” withdrawal of the bill by the previous committee.
Gaffney said that withdrawal was “the will” of that committee, and despite his desire to “protect women’s rights,” he urged the committee to support the previous committee’s withdrawal.
Even before Monday’s committees, the full Council rejected Gaffney’s bid to have the bill approved on a one-cycle emergency basis at its last meeting.
Ordinance 2022-401 contemplated “up to $4,000 in travel expenses annually for any medical treatments (including medication, procedures, or operations) related to reproductive rights if that medical treatment is not available within 100 miles of the employee’s home and virtual care is not possible.”
“Reproductive rights as used herein means the rights of an individual to decide whether to reproduce and have reproductive health,” the language continues. “This may include an individual’s right to plan a family, terminate a pregnancy, use contraceptives, and gain access to reproductive health services.”
This legislation has two more stops ahead. The Finance Committee will hear the bill Tuesday morning, and the Rules Committee Tuesday afternoon. But it doesn’t seem like the sponsor is going to work hard to sell it going forward. If all committees withdraw the bill, the City Council won’t have to hear any more public comment on it.