For the second time in two years, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) has vetoed millions of dollars in funding that would have gone toward making birth control accessible to low-income Floridians.
DeSantis vetoed a total of $3 billion out of the $110 billion budget that the state legislature sent him last month. Of the $3 billion he slashed, $2 million would have provided individuals with low incomes the opportunity to obtain long-acting, reversible forms of contraception, including intrauterine devices (IUDs), which are effective for up to 10 years, and Depo-Provera injections, which last for around three months, among others.
DeSantis issued a similar veto last year when the legislature attempted to include funding for long-acting contraceptives in the state budget.
The decision to veto such funding comes as the state is just a month away from implementing a 15-week ban on abortion.
The funding for long-acting methods of birth control is a rare bipartisan measure that is supported by both Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature. The effort to include it in this year’s budget was promoted and supported by state Senate President Wilton Simpson, an anti-abortion Republican lawmaker who supports the expansion of birth control access, particularly when it benefits who would not ordinarily be able to afford it.
“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,” Simpson said at the start of this legislative term.
Reproductive rights leaders in the state decried DeSantis’s action last week, noting that it is particularly callous because it will harm people with modest to low incomes.
“To take away health care from vulnerable people is just another example of his ongoing cruelty to Floridians,” said Stephanie Fraim, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, in an email to The Tampa Bay Times.
The contraceptives that could have been covered by the funding are more expensive than other forms of birth control, and thus not easily accessible for people with low incomes and those who cannot afford regular forms of insurance. Florida is also one of 12 states across the U.S. that hasn’t expanded Medicaid coverage since the Affordable Care Act passed more than a decade ago.
Americans overall support expanding access to birth control, both for those with lower incomes and for the public at large, especially if the Supreme Court overturns the long-established right to abortion access in the U.S, as it has repeatedly indicated it will. According to an Economist/YouGov poll published in May, 91 percent of voters say that birth control should be free to whoever wants it, if abortion protections in the U.S. are overturned later this summer.