Pregnancy Program Hopes to Reduce Abortion in Florida

Jeb Bush wants to spend millions of your tax dollars to bring down Florida’s abortion rate. Nearly 92,000 abortions were performed in Florida last year, an increase of nearly seven percent since 2001.

Critics say the administration’s plans to reduce abortion don’t go far enough, but supporters say it will bring hope to women in crisis.

Twenty-one-year-old Cheree Tillie is a homeless single mom who is nine months pregnant with her second child. She found help at the Brehon Institute, a program that provides housing and counseling for women in crisis pregnancies.

“Even though it’s real hard to raise children on your own, with this help that I receive, I can do it.”

Gov. Jeb Bush wants to see more programs like Brehon’s throughout the state. He and Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings want to put $4 million into a statewide hotline and support services to steer women away from abortion. They want them to keep their babies, or consider adoption.

Brehon’s director, Jackie Malone, was excited by the announcement.

“We are thrilled about the opportunity to serve more and see throughout the state more families and moms receive these types of support.”

But others are angered by the one-sided approach. Planned Parenthood of Florida’s Stephanie Grutman says the programs the Bush administration wants to expand use scare tactics to prevent women from even thinking about abortion.

“The governor’s proposal funds organizations that mislead women, don’t provide women with all of their options and quite honestly, provide women with biased information about birth control and abortion.”

Planned Parenthood says a true effort to reduce abortion would include birth control counseling to reduce unintended pregnancies in the first place. Family planning is not part of the Bush plan.

The state Legislature still must approve spending the $4 million for the governor’s pregnancy support services program. The spring legislative session begins Tuesday.