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Crist veto blocks Fla. abortion opt-out

WASHINGTON (BP)–A veto by Gov. Charlie Crist has prevented Florida from becoming the fourth state to opt out of a provision in the new federal health care law that would require coverage for abortion in “insurance exchanges.”

Crist, who left the Republican Party this year to run as an independent for the U.S. Senate, vetoed the bill June 11. His action also nullified a provision that would have required a woman in the first trimester of her pregnancy to undergo an ultrasound procedure before having an abortion. The legislation also mandated the woman be offered an opportunity to see the ultrasound image and receive an explanation of it.

Arizona, Tennessee and Mississippi previously had enacted laws barring the use of federal funds for insurance plans that cover abortions. The health care reform measure signed into law by President Obama in March requires “insurance exchanges” in each state to offer at least one plan that covers abortion and one plan that does not. The law, however, allows states to opt out and bar insurance plans that cover abortions from participating in their exchanges.

“Governor Crist had the opportunity to stand with the overwhelming majority of Americans across the political spectrum who oppose taxpayer-funded abortion,” said Matthew Faraci, spokesman for Americans United for Life, which has drafted a model bill for opting out of abortion coverage. “By vetoing this abortion opt-out legislation, Governor Crist makes it clear that he stands with those who favor taxpayer funding of abortion.”

The insurance exchanges are to be implemented in 2014.
Compiled by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode.

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