Florida Passes Six-Week Abortion Ban, Becoming 15th State to Restrict Access Since Roe v. Wade Overturned

Florida has become the 15th state to either ban or heavily restrict abortion since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year.[0] On Thursday, the state legislature approved a bill that prohibits abortion after six weeks gestation, before many women know they are pregnant. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign the bill into law, which will end the state’s status as an abortion destination for women throughout the Southeast and likely force many to travel even farther to access care. The measure allows for exceptions in cases of rape, incest, fetal abnormalities, or to save the life of the pregnant person. Nonetheless, the patient must produce evidence such as a copy of a restraining order, police report, medical record, or court order to substantiate that they were victims of rape or incest, and two doctors must concur that the abortion was essential.[1]

For several months, Florida has been the most accessible destination for people seeking abortion care in the Southeast, as neighboring states have already instituted near or total abortion bans in the ten months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.[2] Abortion is practically prohibited in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk.[3] The state of Georgia, which shares a border with Florida, has implemented a ban on abortions after just six weeks, a timeframe that is often before most women are aware of their pregnancy. Performing abortions in Texas can result in doctors being sentenced to life in prison.[3]

Exceptions for abortion are included in the six-week ban for cases of pregnancy resulting from rape, incest, or human trafficking, as well as situations where the pregnancy poses severe health risks or could lead to death, or when the fetus has a fatal anomaly. However, the exceptions offered by Florida’s proposed six-week ban are limited to 15 weeks after conception and require victims of rape and incest to show a police report or other evidence of their assault to obtain an abortion. In order for a woman to terminate a pregnancy after 15 weeks, she must have two doctors confirm that her health is in serious danger or that the fetus has a fatal abnormality.[4] Abortions can only be performed past that point until 15 weeks to save a pregnant person’s life, to “avert a serious risk” to the patient’s health, if there is a “fatal fetal abnormality,” and in cases of rape, incest, or human trafficking.

Currently, Florida permits abortion until 15 weeks, making it a significant destination for individuals who travel from their home state to undergo the procedure.[1] The state Supreme Court is presently hearing a challenge to that law.[1] The current law will be subject to the six-week ban only if it is upheld by the conservative-controlled court.[1] Should the new legislation come into force, it will undeniably result in a considerable adverse impact throughout the remaining southern region.[5]

According to polling data, most voters in Florida are against implementing a prohibition on abortion. Last February, a poll carried out by the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida revealed that 57% of Florida voters were against a previous legislation that limited the availability of abortion up to 15 weeks of pregnancy.[6] The bill had the support of only 34 percent of voters.[6] A recent survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute shows that almost 66% of people in Florida are in favor of legalizing abortion in most or all situations.[7] A recent poll revealed that approximately 75% of Florida voters, with 61% of Republican participants, are against a six-week abortion ban that doesn’t allow exceptions for rape or incest.

The Democrats’ assurance is based on two factors: public surveys that reveal a lack of bipartisan support for strict abortion bans and recent examples.[8] In a race focused on abortion, a Democratic contender for the Wisconsin Supreme Court emerged victorious by 11 points, five months following the Republicans’ inability to secure significant wins during the midterm elections.[8] Moderate Republicans went beyond party lines and contributed to her successful campaign.[8] Restrictions are important to a politically active share of the Republican base, which wants to see tightening of access to abortion since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, ending the constitutional right to an abortion that had been in place since 1973. The significance of that cannot be overlooked in primary elections.[9]

Governor Ron DeSantis expressed his pride in backing life and family in the state of Florida.[0] I commend the Legislature for enacting the Heartbeat Protection Act, which broadens pro-life safeguards and offers extra aid to young mothers and families.[10] However, with DeSantis on the verge of entering the GOP presidential primary – for which abortion is often a litmus test for candidates – Republican state lawmakers delivered their leader a political victory, flexing their supermajorities in both Florida chambers to swiftly push through the new restrictions.[4] It is widely anticipated that the law will become effective once the state Supreme Court reverses its prior ruling safeguarding access to abortion. Florida, which was once a safe haven for Southern women facing challenges in terminating their pregnancies due to strict state laws, is set to become one of the most challenging states in the country to access abortion services.[5]

0. “DeSantis Signs Florida’s 6-Week Abortion Ban” Forbes, 14 Apr. 2023, https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianbushard/2023/04/14/desantis-signs-floridas-6-week-abortion-ban

1. “Ron DeSantis Knows Just How Unpopular His Abortion Ban Is” The New Republic, 13 Apr. 2023, https://newrepublic.com/post/171939/photo-will-haunt-ron-desantis-2024-bid

2. “Florida Just Passed a Six-Week Abortion Ban – Mother Jones” Mother Jones, 13 Apr. 2023, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2023/04/florida-just-passed-a-six-week-abortion-ban/

3. “Florida’s Abortion Law Is a Disaster for Access in the South” New York Magazine, 14 Apr. 2023, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2023/04/floridas-abortion-law-is-a-disaster-for-access-in-the-south.html

4. “DeSantis, on cusp of presidential campaign, defies national abortion sentiments with signing of six-week ban” CNN, 14 Apr. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/04/14/politics/ron-desantis-abortion-florida-ban/index.html

5. “Abortion Access Could Be Blocked In Much Of The South After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Signed Into Law A Six-Week Ban” BuzzFeed News, 14 Apr. 2023, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/annabetts/florida-house-passes-six-week-abortion-ban

6. “Ann Coulter Issues Two Word Warning About Ron DeSantis’ Abortion Ban” Newsweek, 14 Apr. 2023, https://www.newsweek.com/ann-coulter-issues-two-word-warning-about-ron-desantis-abortion-ban-1794506

7. “Multi-front battle over abortion intensifies as Florida joins Republican-led states approving near-total bans” CBS News, 14 Apr. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/abortion-florida-ban-law-pill-republican-states-battle-intensifies/

8. “DeSantis could be walking into a general election trap on abortion” POLITICO, 13 Apr. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/04/13/democrats-tie-anti-abortion-bill-around-desantis-swing-states-00091976

9. “These Republicans voted against Florida’s new abortion ban. Here’s who broke with their party and why.” South Florida Sun Sentinel, 15 Apr. 2023, https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/fl-ne-republicans-broward-palm-beach-oppose-abortion-ban-20230415-ztrax4u2a5bg5gfulzarhibgsa-story.html

10. “Ron DeSantis signs Florida’s 6-week abortion ban into law” CNBC, 14 Apr. 2023, https://www.cnbc.com/2023/04/14/ron-desantis-quietly-signs-6-week-abortion-ban-into-law-in-florida.html

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