City of St. Pete is ready to meet health committee to discuss sending funds to Tampa Bay Abortion Fund

The next HERS committee meeting is expected sometime in February.

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click to enlarge Reproductive rights activists demonstrate in St. Petersburg on Sept. 3, 2022. - Photo by Dave Decker
Photo by Dave Decker
Reproductive rights activists demonstrate in St. Petersburg on Sept. 3, 2022.
St. Pete City councilmembers laid out their budget priorities last week, with Democratic socialist councilmember Richie Floyd reiterating his desire to see funds allocated to the Tampa Bay Abortion Fund.

“I’d like to see us provide $50,000 in assistance to the Tampa Bay Abortion Fund,” Floyd said. “This would do a lot to impact the degradation of rights we’re experiencing in our country right now around abortion.”

Last month, Floyd made a motion in the Health, Energy, Resilience, and Sustainability Committee or HERS requesting council craft a reproductive rights resolution and provide funding for abortion access. Both motions received some support from fellow council members Gina Driscoll and Brandi Gabbard (pending more information). In this week’s HERS committee meeting, city administrator Rob Gerdes says his team is ready to meet with the committee on the issue.

“We said that we would circle around with our team and have some further discussions with the police department and human resources related to some of the topics that came up with this issue,” Gerdes said this week. “So from our perspective, whenever the committee would like to bring this back, we’ll be ready.”

What the city police department and human resources folks have to contribute to a resolution regarding reproductive health and the possible funding of abortion access remains to be seen. Gerdes and the Welch administration have said previously they would honor whatever council decided on the issue. The city will present information at the next meeting on what might be possible.

Last month, St. Pete chief assistant attorney Jeannine Williams told the HERS committee that legal risk remains low for the city’s own reproductive resolution. She noted that there are similar resolutions in Florida (like Tampa’s) and throughout the country. Williams also says that funding from the city to the Tampa Bay Abortion Fund is legal as the organization doesn’t own an abortion clinic. The city could allocate funds for TBAF just like any other organization the city would donate to.

Meanwhile, Florida’s new 15-week abortion ban remains in place until arguments are heard by the Florida Supreme Court. Despite the rolling back of abortion rights in Florida, the Sunshine State remains one of the only southern states with abortion care. Just a few weeks ago, Republican Florida Senate president Kathleen Passidomo said she wanted to reduce the 15-week ban to 12 weeks.

The next HERS committee meeting is expected sometime in February.
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