A Woman’s Right to Choose

A Woman’s Right to Choose
by Ken Sobel

Women who find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy face a difficult choice.  The only options are to carry the baby to term and either raise it or give it up for adoption; or terminate the pregnancy by having an abortion.  The psychological ramifications of these choices are profound.  A woman may not be financially or emotionally ready to raise a child.  If forced to do so, the child may be raised in a less than optimum environment, resulting in harm to the child.  Giving the baby up for adoption may have detrimental effects on her own emotional stability.

Democrats understand these issues and want women to be able to make this difficult choice without interference.  Republicans, on the other hand, have a much more narrow view, and want to take this choice away, even in the case of pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

In 1973, the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in the case of Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion throughout the country.  This decision made it illegal for states to prevent a woman from having an abortion.

In the past few years, Republicans have continuously tried to reverse this decision. After many failed attempts in Congress to restrict abortions, the states have now passed laws that restrict the right to an abortion.  Although there have been some successful cases to rule these laws illegal, most are still in effect.  According to the Guttmacher Institute, states have enacted more than 230 restrictions on abortions in just the last four years.

Republicans, in control of state legislatures, have passed draconian laws resulting in the closing of almost all the clinics that provide abortions.  After the sweeping gains the Republicans had in the 2014 elections, they have garnered even more power.  In 2015, already over 100 new bills have been introduced in 28 states. It seems that Republicans can care less about a woman’s right to choose, and instead, are trying to eliminate this right.  However, these clinics provided much more than just abortions, including mammograms and other cancer detection procedures, pre-natal care, and other services.  The closing of these clinics deprives woman of the proper health care they deserve.

People in this country have a right to their opinions, but trying to impose one’s morals on others is not right.  One seeming contradiction is that part of the Republican platform is for less government.  But they are willing to use government to control women’s bodies and rights.

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CBS This Morning Video – Carl Zimmerman

CBS This Morning Video – Property owners in Florida are outraged about a state law that allows condominium complexes to be converted to rental apartments if 80 percent of the owners vote for the change

Carl Hiaasen: If you don’t ask, Rick Scott won’t tell


Rick Scott is our own man of mystery, Austin Powers without the hair mop and dance moves.

No Florida governor has ever operated with such jet-setting stealth, concealing so many details of his daily travels and contacts. He says he’s out working nonstop for the citizens of his adopted state, yet his official schedule is full of more gaps than the Nixon transcripts.

Occasionally, Floridians catch an intriguing glimpse of Scott’s shadow life. His secret hunting trip to a Texas game ranch courtesy of U.S. Sugar had been kept under wraps for more than a year before it was sniffed out by reporters from the Tampa Bay Times.

The governor still refuses to divulge who went with him, or whom he met. One known fact is that U.S. Sugar, an epic polluter of the Everglades, has donated more than $534,000 to Scott’s reelection campaign so far.

His recent predecessors regularly made public their detailed travel and work records, including political fund-raising trips. Up until Scott took office, it was generally accepted that Floridians have a right to know where their governor is going, and why.

Whenever Lawton Chiles took a private plane to a campaign stop, his office released not only the names but also the phone numbers of other passengers on the aircraft. Both Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist, who’s running against Scott this year, often provided lists of who attended private meetings with them, and what subjects were discussed.

Since his arrival in Tallahassee, Scott has promised “transparency,” and on his first day signed an executive order restarting the Office of Open Government, which is supposed to help Floridians gain easier access to public records.

However, Scott’s concept of a public record is narrow, to put it kindly.

By using his own Cessna Citation instead of a state jet, he definitely saves the taxpayers money. He also conveniently shields himself from potentially embarrassing inquiries regarding his whereabouts.

The tail numbers of his plane have been removed from flight-tracking websites, so you can’t see where it’s heading or where it’s been. Scott and his staff won’t disclose even the most basic travel information —destination, times of departure and arrival — until days after the trip, if then.

Key details are typically blacked out, using a public-records exemption that was intended to shield “surveillance techniques” of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The FDLE provides security staff for the governor.

His secrecy obsession policy extends beyond his travel plans.

As part of his initial push for transparency, Scott launched of Project Sunburst, which was supposed to makes available his state emails and those of his executive staff.

It would have been good for open government, if only Scott’s chief of staff (and then his successor) hadn’t ordered all employees to use private emails and cellphone texts when discussing sensitive matters.

The objective was to hide important policy-making from outside scrutiny, reducing Project Sunburst to a farce.

A suit by Tallahassee lawyer Steven Andrews has revealed that private emails were used by Scott’s top staff, and even his wife, to coordinate a $5 million project to re-manicure the entrance of the governor’s mansion and purchase nearby real estate for a “governor’s park.”

The planning was being done on state time, and the Republican-controlled Legislature obligingly allotted $2.5 million for the makeover.

For the rest of the funds, a “Governor’s Mansion Foundation” hit up major companies eager to stay in Scott’s good graces — including Florida Power & Light, Blue Cross Blue Shield and the GEO Group, which operates two state prisons.

“U.S. Sugar just came thru w check for $100k!!!” burbled the mansion curator to Scott’s deputy chief of staff, via private email.

A judge’s order was necessary before this interesting message and others were uncovered. It’s a matter of significant public interest when corporations that rely on state approval shower hundreds of thousands of dollars on a sitting governor’s pet project.

You think U.S. Sugar or FPL gives a rat’s azalea about the landscaping at the mansion? They gave the money for the same reason they write campaign checks — to purchase favor.

Scott won’t talk about this because he is, after all, a man of mystery.

Now you see him, now you don’t.


FMA Supports Medicaid Expansion


The Florida Medical Association’s House of Delegates overwhelmingly adopted a resolution supporting Medicaid expansion to cover uninsured low-income adults at FMA’s annual meeting on Sunday, according to doctors who were there.

FMA, which closes its annual meeting to the media, is expected to issue a news release at some point, offering details on the resolution. Part of the measure reportedly urged better pay for physicians who treat Medicaid patients.

Medicaid expansion, an optional part of the Affordable Care Act, would cover approximately 800,000 Floridians who have too little income to qualify for traditional Medicaid in Florida or for subsidies on the new federal Health Insurance Marketplace. The health law makes money available to the states for that purpose — 100 percent funding through 2016, then tapering to 90 percent after 2020.

Health economists have estimated that $51 billion in federal money was available to Florida over a 10-year period for Medicaid expansion beginning in January 2014. But each year of delay reduces the amount available.

In 2013, the Florida Senate passed a bill that would have accepted the funds to cover the low-income uninsured if the federal government allowed the state to enroll the patients in private plans — a rollout that is already under way for other state Medicaid beneficiaries.

Gov. Rick Scott, who had opposed other matters related to the Affordable Care Act, said he would accept the expanded coverage to the poor. But it was blocked in the Florida House by Speaker Will Weatherford and other Tea Party Republicans.

So when the Medicaid expansion money began to flow to other states in January, Florida was omitted. In this year’s legislative session, neither House nor Senate took up bills on Medicaid expansion.

At FMA’s annual meeting last year, a resolution supporting Medicaid expansion was referred to a committee for further study, which killed it for the year. It placed FMA out of step with the American Medical Association, which actively supported the health law and expansion of coverage to the poor.

While FMA did not publicly state why it took no action last year, those who attended committee meetings said officers were worried that if they pushed the issue and made Weatherford angry, the doctors would be punished on other issues that mattered to them.

The three doctors who verified Sunday’s passage are members of Doctors for America. Dr. Mona Mangat, an allergist-immunologist in St. Petersburg who serves as state director for the group, released a statement Monday morning applauding the FMA action.

“The Florida Medical Association sent a resounding message about the importance of increasing access to health care for nearly 1 million Floridians. Doctors across Florida are united in expanding access to care because we know this is the right move for our patients and our state.

“We applaud the FMA for this vote and look forward to working together in the upcoming legislative session” in January 2015, she said. She said 2,200 Floridians will die this year for lack of access to health care — people like Charlene Dill, whose death was described in Orlando Weekly in April.

–Health News Florida is part of WUSF Public Media. Contact Editor Carol Gentry at 813-974-8629 (desk) or e-mail at cgentry@wusf.org. For more health news, visit HealthNewsFlorida.org.