ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A sweeping anti-abortion bill passed in Florida last year is gradually falling apart, piece by piece.
The bill includes a requirement that people get a pricey license before counseling women who are considering abortion.
Getting an abortion was difficult for Stephanie Estrella to talk about when she was 19 years old. “If you don’t have people to talk to, if you feel silenced, something builds up inside of you,” she told Channel 9’s Nancy Alvarez.
A federal complaint has been filed against the state by women’s groups and religious leaders, including the Rev. Bryan Fulwider.
“This is against everything we believe in, as people of faith and Americans,” Fulwider said.
The state mandate requires anyone who counsels women considering an abortion to:
- Read the woman a prepared statement that lists alternatives to the procedure.
- Register with the state and retain a $200 license.
- Post the license in their office or place of worship.
None of it makes sense to Fulwider, who often speaks to women in the community or in their homes. “What do we do? Post a sign around our neck? It’s a nonsensical notion that we’re going to post something like this,” he said.
Religious leaders are subject to fines and arrest for not complying with the requirements.
But Fulwider and others have vowed to fight the mandate every step of the way.
“Big Brother doesn’t need to be meddling in the religious community and with leaders who are trying to help their people with difficult issues,” he said.
Women’s groups argue that being required to register as a counselor with the state makes them public targets for anti-abortion groups.
The complaint lists the state Attorney General’s Office and the Agency for Healthcare Administration as defendants. WFTV contacted both offices but has not received a response to this story.
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