Florida governor signs legislation that cuts state funding to abortion clinics, imposes abortion restrictions

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is being hailed for signing a pro-life measure described as a ‘historic victory’ in the state.(Florida Governor's website)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law on Friday a bill that cuts state funding to abortion clinics, including those run by Planned Parenthood, and impose restrictions on the procedure.

Scott signed HB 1441 which provides that "a state agency, a local governmental entity, or a managed care plan providing services under Part IV of Chapter 409 may not expend funds for the benefit of, pay funds to, or initiate or renew a contract with an organization that owns, operates, or is affiliated with one or more clinics that are licensed under this chapter and perform abortions."

The only exceptions are abortions performed by clinics on foetuses that are conceived through rape or incest; are medically necessary to preserve the life of a pregnant woman or to avert a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of the pregnant woman; existing contracts; and funds for reimbursement for Medicaid services.

Florida is one of several U.S. states that have adopted new abortion laws aimed at chipping away the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalised abortion, Reuters reported.

HB 1441, which will take effect on July 1, easily passed the Republican-controlled Florida legislature earlier this month.

John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, said the new law is a "a historic victory."

Abortion clinics are also required to submit to the state a monthly report that will include the number of abortions performed and the reasons for the procedure.

Doctors who perform abortions must also have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital while clinics should have a written patient transfer agreement with a hospital.

The Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates criticised the governor for signing the law.

"For Rick Scott to prioritise political pandering over his own constituents' access to healthcare is more than cynical. It's shameful," said Laura Goodhue, executive director.

She said HIV rates will "skyrocket" and teenage pregnancies will rise because women will lose access to regular treatment at state-funded clinics.

However, the bill's sponsors said the law was not aimed at closing down abortion clinics but to protect women.