With the legislative session ending this week, I wanted to provide an overview of some of the recent laws that were signed in and provide information for you to make adjustments if needed. This is going to be long and be factual in nature: I will reserve my own thoughts on it should they come up during appointments in discussing ways to approach. Anyone wishing to discuss these with me is more than welcome to; I want to help as much as I can given the new structure and circumstances.
State Legislative Updates
1) SB 300 (https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2023/300/?Tab=BillText) called the “Heartbeat Protection Act”, this reduces the ability for a person to terminate a pregnancy from 15 weeks to 6 weeks. This bill has been in place since mid-April but is currently being run through in the FL Supreme Court due to a potential conflict with a privacy clause. It does have conditional exceptions for rape, incest, or human trafficking. Expect healthcare providers to begin positioning to this standard. This law will take effect immediately should the FL Supreme Court rule on it.
2) HB 267 (https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2023/267/) This law revises the Telehealth Practice Standard and allows for healthcare professionals to provide services over the phone. This will go into effect July 1st.
3) SB 1718 (https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2023/1718) This is the immigration bill, and is quite controversial. This requires that employers check the immigration status of workers, that people do not hire undocumented workers, that people do not provide transportation to undocumented workers, and that Florida hospitals will now collect data on patients who present as undocumented to be sent to the state for review. Do note that we are not required to document a patient’s documentation status for the state. This law goes into effect immediately
4) SB 254 (https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2023/254) Getting into the big anti-LGBTQ bills now (content warning here if needed). This is the Gender Affirming Care ban, outlawing gender affirming medical care to minors. This includes puberty blockers, HRT, and surgical interventions aimed at helping a trans kiddo align more with their gender. It also allows for the courts to intervene in custody arrangements if one parent suspects another of providing gender affirming medical care to their child. (even if they are in another state!) It does allow for those already receiving gender affirming medical care to continue, but has not yet stipulated how that will happen. It restricts those who are able to provide the medical care (minors and adults) to physicians only and moves care to in-office only. This bill does NOT outlaw psychotherapy for trans kiddos. This is for gender affirming MEDICAL care, not psychotherapy. Please continue fully supporting and seeing your trans and gender non-conforming kiddos; they need you more than ever right now. B. There is active discussion on whether healthcare providers would be required to report families to DCF should they find out they are helping their kiddo access gender affirming medical care. The current consensus is that, as written, the bill separates this component from abuse or neglect, and we as healthcare providers are required to report in cases of abuse or neglect. This bill has not yet been signed by the governor, but once it does, it will go into effect immediately.
5) HB 1521/SB 1674 (https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2023/1521) This is the anti-trans bathroom bill, requiring people to use the binary gendered bathroom based upon their assigned sex at birth. It criminalizes trans people using the bathroom that aligns with their gender, and forces schools, detention centers, prisons, and government buildings who receive state funds to enforce binary gendered bathrooms and to show that they are following the law. This does not include private businesses and healthcare facilities, however, so as healthcare providers we can continue to allow patients to use their bathroom of choice. This will take effect July 1st.
6) HB 1069/SB 1320 (https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2023/1069) This is the expanded “Don’t Say Gay” bill, requiring (on top of last year’s bill) preventing discussion of sex or gender up until the 8th grade, requiring school staff to use assigned names and genders of students without regard for their selected name and gender, restricting expression of teachers from queer backgrounds, and adjusting the way that human sexuality is discussed and what materials are allowed to be used in the schools. It also removes a swath of books without review from school library shelves that contain the slightest hints of sexuality or gender discussion that does not align with state standards. This bill goes into effect July 1st.
7) HB 1403/SB 1580 (https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2023/1403) Another controversial bill with indirect aims at the LGBTQIA+ community. This bill allows for healthcare providers to refuse providing services to patients who have different views or beliefs that prompt moral, ethical, or religious concerns from the provider. It cannot be due to specific prejudices for protected populations (race, ethnicity, disability, etc.) but does not include protections for sexual orientation or gender. It must be done so in writing and it must be “sincere”. This will go into effect July 1st.