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Senate adds second abortion measure to health care bill

The Senate added an amendment to a health care bill that would prohibit using state or federal dollars  toward abortions in a 24-11 vote.

Critics said the measure would also prohibit women from paying for abortions through insurance policies provided by private employers who receive tax credits.

“I feel like I’m back in the House – and that was not meant as a compliment. This is not the way to do things,” said Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach.

He went on: “For all of your guys that are all for less government today is the more government and less freedom day. What you’re doing is invading the woman’s right to make a choice.”

Incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos introduced the measure. Abortions performed to save a life or because the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest are exempt and could be paid for with public money.

“I do not think taxpayer dollars in one form or fashion should pay for abortions,” Haridopolos said.

Incoming minority leader Sen. Nan Rich predicted the measure would be the most important issue in the upcoming state elections.

“When each of you go home and campaign, I really can’t wait for the women to tell you what they think about this piece of legislation and this amendment,” Rich said.

Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, said he would proudly tell constituents that he tried to save public money.

“They will be applauding us,” said Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico.

It was the second abortion measure added to the bill Wednesday.