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Florida's Senate President wants to increase access to contraception

Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson addresses a legislative session, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
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FR121174 AP
Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson addresses a legislative session, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Senate President Wilton Simpson wants to allocate state money for long-acting reversible contraception, often called LARCs, for low-income women and girls. Simpson put nearly $2-million in the budget last legislative session for the program, but Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed it. Now, Simpson says he’s planning to try again.

“I’ve been prolife my whole life,” Simpson said during a recent press conference. He called a measure to ban most abortions after 15 weeks a “very good bill,” but he said he also thinks it’s important to stop unwanted pregnancies from happening in the first place.

“Tens of thousands of potential abortions can be avoided and so I see that as a pro-life issue,” Simpson said.

LARCs include intrauterine devices, or IUDs, and contraceptive implants. A 2012 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found LARCs work better than other forms of contraception, like oral birth control pills, since once they’re in place they can work for years to prevent unintended pregnancy with just one doctor visit. The same study found nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended pregnancies and about half of those are attributed to improper or inconsistent use of birth control. Simpson, who is adopted, said an unwanted pregnancy can have long-lasting negative impacts.

“It is life changing when a young woman has a LARC-type apparatus to where she won’t get pregnant and maybe decide not to get pregnant even into her 20s. And the outcomes from an educational, from a workforce, from living in poverty and all the things that go along with that can be avoided,” Simpson said.

Simpson said he supports giving women options when it comes to birth control, and he added right now there’s one group whose choices are limited—those with limited incomes.

LARCs can be more expensive than other forms of birth control since they must be inserted by a doctor.

Simpson said he wants to add funding to the budget that will increase access to LARCs for low-income women and girls. He said it will go in as part of budget negotiations between House and Senate leaders during the conference process. When asked by reporters why he would take that route rather than bringing the issue forward through the committee process, Simpson sidestepped the question, saying it’s already too late in the process. But the issue of LARCs is a controversial one among some conservatives. Last legislative session the idea faced pushback from groups like the Florida Catholic Conference before DeSantis eventually vetoed the item.

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