Medical treatment

Councilman discusses proposal to reimburse city employees who travel for ‘medical treatment related to reproductive rights’

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Gaffney held a press conference Monday on a bill that would create a reimbursement option for city employees who travel for “medical treatment related to reproductive rights.”

At the press conference on the steps of City Hall, Gaffney, who is also running for a state Senate seat, said he does not believe in abortion, but that does not not prevent the bill from being introduced.

“I love Jesus like anyone else, but I just believe that a woman has the right to choose what she wants to do with her body, and I don’t think it’s a man’s job to do that. do,” Gaffney said.

News4JAX first reported on this bill on Friday, and at that time, even though he introduced the bill, Gaffney didn’t want to talk about it on camera. On Monday he responded but would not answer questions, but I pressed him on some points.

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LILY: Gaffney Reproductive Rights Travel Reimbursement Bill

Behind Gaffney at Monday’s press conference were those in favor, like Florida Rising’s Christina Kittle.

“It’s a way of hitting back from the streets at the legislative bodies,” Kittle said. “We have thousands of people on the streets for this, so the demand is there, and then we have an elected official who is supposed to represent us, be a representative and try to speak up and do the best he can with a bill that I think we all know won’t get the votes it needs.

Watching from afar was Margie Watkins who has had abortions in the past and is now against them.

“He wants to push this bill through, so if it’s a woman’s right, why is he standing to push the bill through for them for our tax money?” said Watkins. “No, I don’t agree that our tax money should go to the workers. If he wants to pay for the abortion out of pocket, good for him.

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This is one of the questions I asked Gaffney. He said that’s what his nonprofit organization, Reimbursing Women, will do, and he urges other Jacksonville businesses to do the same.

Gaffney’s bill follows a leak of the Supreme Court’s initial majority opinion on Roe v. Wade who shook up abortion rights advocates.

If the Supreme Court’s plan holds, it essentially sends the question of abortion rights back to the states – as it did before 1973, when the Roe decision established at the federal level that a woman had the right to abort.

While states are in control of abortion laws, Florida and Georgia both have Republican-dominated legislatures that have implemented strict abortion restrictions. Florida just passed a 15-week abortion ban, and Georgia’s fetal heart rate law was essentially stopped in federal court.

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That means a local woman who wanted an abortion might have to travel out of state, beyond neighboring Georgia, to get one legally.

Gaffney’s bill appears to prepare for that possibility by establishing that City of Jacksonville employees who opt for such treatment could be reimbursed for their travel expenses.

If passed, the bill will take effect July 1 and will authorize up to $4,000 in travel expenses per year for a city employee for any medical treatment related to reproductive rights if that treatment is not not available within 100 miles of the employee’s home and virtual care is not possible.

According to the bill, these treatments could include medications, procedures or operations, including the termination of a pregnancy, the use of contraceptives, family planning or access to reproductive health services.

The bill will be introduced at the Jacksonville City Council meeting on Tuesday and is being tabled as an emergency bill, which would mean it would only need one cycle before going into effect. force, but it should not be adopted.

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On Friday afternoon, Gaffney released a statement saying, “As a man of faith using this would not be my personal preference. However, as a legislator, I represent all people and I will fight for their freedom and their right to have options, and every woman deserves that option.

Republican members of the city council, like Councilman Rory Diamond, say the bill will never pass. Since Friday, I have reached out to Republican Councilwoman LeAnna Cumber, who is also a mayoral candidate, for her perspective, but have not heard back. As for the mayor’s office, it is a bill on which he does not comment on at the moment.

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