JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – City Councilman Reggie Gaffney has proposed legislation that would create a reimbursement option for city employees who travel for “medical treatments related to reproductive rights.”
Gaffney’s bill comes on the heels of a leaked initial majority opinion from the Supreme Court on Roe v. Wade that has abortion rights advocates scrambling.
If the draft from the Supreme Court holds, it essentially sends the issue of abortion rights back to the states -- like it was before 1973, when the Roe decision established federally that a woman had the right to have an abortion.
If states are in the driver’s seat for abortion laws, Florida and Georgia both have Republican-dominated legislatures that have been efforting tight abortion restrictions. Florida just passed a 15-week abortion ban, and Georgia’s fetal heartbeat law has been essentially halted by a federal court.
That means a local woman who wanted to have an abortion might have to travel out of state, beyond neighboring Georgia, to legally have one.
Gaffney’s bill appears to be preparing for that possibility by establishing that Jacksonville city employees who opt for such treatment could be reimbursed for their travel expenses.
If passed, the bill would go into effect July 1 and allow up to $4,000 in travel expenses annually for a city employee for any medical treatments related to reproductive rights if that treatment is not available within 100 miles of the employee’s home and virtual care is not possible.
Those treatments could include medication, procedures or operations, including terminating a pregnancy, using contraceptives, family planning or gaining access to reproductive health services, according to the bill.
The bill will be introduced at the next City Council meeting on Tuesday and is being filed as an emergency bill, which would mean it would need only one cycle before it would go into effect. It’s slated for a public hearing on June 14.
Friday afternoon, Councilman Reggie 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 this option.”
Gaffney added his office will be saying more about this next week.