Fla. Gov. Vetoes Pro-Life Bill

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist on Friday vetoed what some called one of the strongest pro-life measures in the state's history.

The Republican-turned independent, whose campaign website no longer contains a strong stance against abortion, said the measure places an "inappropriate burden" on women.

"Individuals hold strong personal views on the issue of life, as do I," Crist stated in his veto letter. "However, personal views should not result in laws that unwisely expand the role of government and coerce people to obtain medical tests or procedures that are not medically necessary.

"In this case, such action would violate a woman's right to privacy."

Pro-life groups made last-minute attempts to see the landmark legislation, which bans federal funding of abortions and gives women seeking abortions the opportunity to view an ultrasound, passed. Supporters of the bill were rallied to contact Crist this week to sign the measure into law.

"The bill provides valuable information to women facing a difficult decision regarding their pregnancy," states one appeal e-mail, drafted by Christian legal firm Liberty Counsel. "The bill also bans the use of my taxpayer money for the funding of abortions and expresses the desire that Florida opt out of participation in the federal healthcare plan."

The Florida Family Policy Council also pushed an aggressive campaign this week to educate Floridians and tried to "pull out all the stops" in lobbying for the bill.

Despite the efforts, Crist concluded that a woman's decision to end a pregnancy is constitutionally protected and that such measures as HB 1143 do not change hearts.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida applauded Crist's decision, calling the veto a victory for women's rights, privacy and health care.

"Had HB 1143 become law, countless Florida women would not have been able to buy health insurance that covers abortion care, even with their own money, and even if they received no government subsidy to purchase their insurance," said Courtenay Strickland, director of Public Policy at ACLU of Florida.

But for pro-lifers, the veto signifies the loss of thousands of babies.

Crist ran for governor in 2006 as a pro-life candidate. In 1998, he was pro-choice. He is currently running for the U.S. Senate.