Florida Legislature Passes 15-week Abortion Ban, DeSantis Expected to Sign Into Law

Florida Legislature Passes 15-week Abortion Ban, DeSantis Expected to Sign Into Law
A pro-life campaigner displays a plastic doll representing a 12-week-old fetus as she stands outside the Marie Stopes Clinic in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on April 7, 2016. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Mimi Nguyen Ly

The Florida legislature has passed a bill to prohibit abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with no exception for rape or incest, sending the bill to Gov. Ron DeSantis’s desk.

The state’s Senate passed the measure 23–15 late on Thursday, after the House had passed it on Feb. 16 with a vote of 78–39. Both chambers hold a Republican majority.

DeSantis, a Republican, is expected to sign the measure into law. His spokesperson, Christina Pushaw, said earlier in the day that the governor “is pro-life and has voiced support for the concepts in this bill.”

If signed, the measure would take effect on July 1.

The exception to the 15-week ban would be only in cases when the mother is at risk of death or “irreversible physical impairment,” or if the fetus has what is deemed a fatal abnormality.

In a session on Wednesday, Republicans defeated an amendment that would have made exceptions for rape, incest, and human trafficking.

State Senator Kelli Stargel, a sponsor of the bill, said she rejected the notion that a “child should be killed because of the circumstances in which it was conceived.”

Florida currently permits abortions up to 24 weeks without a mandatory waiting period, meaning a woman can terminate her pregnancy the day she arrives at a clinic.

Arizona’s Senate and West Virginia’s House passed similar 15-week abortion bans in mid-February.

The bans are modeled after a Mississippi law, which also bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The U.S. Supreme Court is due to rule by the end of June on the law’s constitutionality. The case is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization 19-1392.

The Mississippi law was signed in 2018, but was challenged less than an hour after its signing by the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only abortion provider in the state, and was blocked from taking effect by a federal judge the following day. Two lower courts ruled against the law. Mississippi asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case, which it agreed to in May.

Besides calling on the high court to reinstate the abortion law, the state of Mississippi has asked it to overturn Roe v. Wade altogether.

Roe v. Wade, a Supreme Court decision in 1973, prohibited states from banning abortions prior to when the fetus is deemed “viable”—that is, potentially able to live outside its mother’s womb—deemed at the time usually around the second trimester of pregnancy at 24 weeks.

In 1992, the Supreme Court via Planned Parenthood v. Casey reaffirmed the Roe ruling and prohibited laws that place an “undue burden” on a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion.

Reuters contributed to this report.
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