Floridians For Reproductive Freedom’s Letter To Gov. Scott

“We urge you to coordinate efforts with local health departments and other public health entities in order to effectively promote available resources and coordinate preventive care efforts, as well as earmarking a portion of any federal funds to expand resources for family planning education and services.”

October 12, 2016

The Honorable Rick Scott, Governor
400 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

Dear Governor Scott:

Floridians for Reproductive Freedom (FRF) is a coalition of 56 organizations representing hundreds of thousands of civic-minded Floridians–including trained health experts–from every part of our state. We are writing to ask you to take immediate and specific action on the Zika virus outbreak and the growing public health crisis in Florida. We are concerned because we have been monitoring the response to Zika and believe that our state has not taken the necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of our communities. We call on you to address this public health crisis by establishing a more transparent collaboration with local communities and partners like this coalition and disability rights groups, increasing access to sexual health education in our communities, and expanding Medicaid at the state level to ensure that no Floridian is left in the coverage gap.

Additionally, a pregnant woman facing a Zika diagnosis needs compassion, support, and medical options. And those options must include abortion. What she doesn’t need are politicians judging her, making decisions for her, and using Florida laws to force her to bring her pregnancy to term. Yet, under your leadership, Florida continues to enforce and expand barriers to abortion access

The impacts of Zika have been devastating. Florida has the highest number of residents infected of any state in the country, making Florida the battleground for this virus. Because there is no medication or vaccine for the Zika virus, the best strategy to combat Zika is prevention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that women and their partners who do not want to get pregnant now should be advised about the range of effective birth control methods and counseled on the importance of correct and consistent use of these methods. And yet, Florida’s leadership has not taken any meaningful steps towards educating the public about their sexual health. We need to put politics aside; communities must be educated on the full-range of reproductive health care services that are available to them in order to prevent the spread of Zika. 

Our state’s leadership has been primarily focused only on one aspect of this crisis: mosquito control.  Indeed, the only other efforts, such as public testing for all pregnant women who might have been affected by Zika, have been slow, underfunded, and ineffective. In order to adopt a truly comprehensive approach to preventing Zika infections, Florida must incorporate sexual health education and access to a full range of reproductive health services into their public education efforts. By essentially dismissing this critical component to preventing new infections, our state has put those most likely to lack access to health care services at the greatest risk for contracting Zika. 

You recently requested federal dollars for a single public health crisis that could be covered by a comprehensive approach through expanding health coverage through the state Medicaid program. Florida should spend Medicaid dollars to stem the Zika outbreak by providing access to contraception in impacted communities. 

As the number of babies born with microcephaly increases, it is essential that the burden to respond to this epidemic not be placed exclusively on women’s shoulders. Low-income women are particularly at risk for Zika infection due to their lack of access to quality health care or affordable mosquito repellents and are therefore at higher risk for giving birth to a baby with microcephaly. In the circumstance where a woman has given birth to a child with microcephaly the state must ensure that families have the support, resources, and services necessary to raise a child with a disability. 

We urge you to coordinate efforts with local health departments and other public health entities in order to effectively promote available resources and coordinate preventive care efforts, as well as earmarking a portion of any federal funds to expand resources for family planning education and services.

Floridians for Reproductive Freedom stands at the ready and looks forward to assisting you and our health departments to address this crisis, educate the public on resources available to them, and prevent the Zika outbreak from continuing to spread.


Floridians for Reproductive Freedom Steering Committee

Laura Goodhue
Executive Director
Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates

Stratton Pollitzer
Deputy Director
Equality Florida

Mark Ferrulo
Executive Director
Progress Florida                               

Becca Guerra
Executive Director
State Voices Florida

Terry Sanders
Florida NOW

Roxey Nelson
Political Director
SEIU 1199

Gaby Garcia-Vera
FL Latina Advocacy Network Field and Advocacy Coordinator
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health




All Women’s Health Centers

American Association of University Women of FL

Anti-Defamation League

ACLU of Florida

American Student Medical Association

Bread and Roses Women’s Health (Gainesville)

Catholics for Choice

Council on American-Islamic Relations FL

CREDO Mobile

Choice USA

Call Them Out Florida

Center for Reproductive Rights

Dream Defenders


Democratic Women’s Club of Florida

Democratic Women’s Club of Walton County

Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida

Democratic Women’s Club of Lee County

Emerge USA

Emergency Medical Assistance Inc. (EMA)

Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates

Equality Florida

Florida AFL-CIO

Florida NOW

Florida Legal Services, Inc.

Florida League of Women Voters

Institute for Science and Human Values

Hispanic Federation

NOW of Fort Myers/Naples

JAXNOW Reproductive Chair

FL Latina Advocacy Network of NLIRH

National Council of Jewish Women (Florida)

National Partnership for Women & Families

National Abortion Federation

National Institute for Reproductive Health

New Leaders Council

Organize Now

NARAL Pro-Choice America

Physicians for Reproductive Health

Presidential Women’s Center

Progress Florida

Pro-Choice Coalition of Broward County

State Voices Florida

Ruth’s List Florida

Tampa Woman’s Health Center, Inc.

SEIU Florida

We Are Woman


Women Movement Now

Women’s Alliance of Southwest Florida