Florida Senate Approves New Abortion Restrictions

Health News Florida: "A controversial bill that would require women to undergo ultrasounds before they can have abortions received final approval in the Senate late Thursday, setting up an epic struggle in the House today, the last day of the session. The bill also affects Florida women's coverage in the new federal health exchanges to go into effect in 2014. The 23-16 vote came at the end of a day filled with turmoil about the measure. With Friday the final day of the annual legislative session, House Democrats tried to use procedural moves to slow the flow of bills to a crawl, in hopes that would spur the Senate to scrap the abortion proposals. But in a debate that focused almost exclusively on the ultrasound requirement, senators pushed forward with the bill and said it would help give women more information before they have abortions" (Saunders, 4/30).

Florida Health News, in a separate story: "State senators gave final approval on Thursday to a bill that will increase regulation of pain-management clinics and try to curb drug abusers' access to large amounts of controlled substances." The bill has already been approved by the House and now goes to the governor.  "Lawmakers said a key part of the bill will bar pain-clinic doctors from dispensing more than 72-hour supplies of controlled substances to patients who pay with cash, checks or credit cards. Patients could still get more than three-day supplies if payment is made through insurance policies or workers-compensation coverage. The bill is trying to stop abusers and traffickers who go to clinics, pay with cash and leave with large [quantities] of painkillers such as oxycodone" (Saunders, 4/30).

The Oklahoman: "Women became emotional and some cried after being shown fetal ultrasound images at a Tulsa abortion clinic Wednesday, a day after Oklahoma enacted what has been called the nation's most restrictive abortion law. None of the women, however, decided against terminating their pregnancies, said Linda Meek, the executive director of Reproductive Services in Tulsa. Lawmakers on Tuesday overrode Gov. Brad Henry's veto of a bill to require all women terminating a pregnancy to undergo a fetal ultrasound image an hour before an abortion is performed. A New York reproductive rights group has filed a lawsuit challenging the law and asking a judge to halt enforcement of the law until the litigation is resolved. A hearing in the case is set for Monday in an Oklahoma County District Court" (Bisbee, 4/29).

The New York Times: "The mayor's office is urging Gov. David A. Paterson to veto a bill that would offer greater rent relief to 11,000 New York City residents with H.I.V. or AIDS, saying the measure would tax the city's strained budget. The bill, which was passed by the State Senate on Tuesday and the Assembly in January, would mean that low-income people receiving housing assistance from the city's H.I.V./AIDS Services Administration would be required to spend no more than 30 percent of their income on rent. Despite the city's current subsidy, many beneficiaries of the program still spend more than half of their income on rent." The mayor's office sent a memo to senators in January opposing the bill because of its increased costs (Buckley, 4/29).

The New York Times, in a separate story: "New York State's decision to pick Lenox Hill Hospital to run the new urgent care center at St. Vincent's Hospital was a curious choice, some doctors said on Tuesday, if only because Lenox Hill is on the Upper East Side, while St. Vincent's is in Greenwich Village. The center could be a revenue source for the financially ailing Lenox Hill, as it would provide a pipeline for patients all the way from West 12th Street and Seventh Avenue, the site of St. Vincent's, to 77th Street and Park Avenue, the site of Lenox Hill. But the choice also heralds a new arrival in the crowded Manhattan hospital scene: North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, which is in the final stages of talks to bring Lenox Hill into its network. If the merger succeeds, the North Shore system will have a presence in two wealthy Manhattan neighborhoods, the Village and the Upper East Side" (Hartocollis, 4/27).

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