Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 5 (HB 5) into law on Thursday, which restricts abortion after the 15th week of pregnancy, an effective ban on late-term abortions in the state. Florida joins a growing conglomerate of states pushing for abortion restrictions ahead of a possible U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer that could affect access nationwide.
HB 5, which goes into effect July 1, permits exceptions in the instance of medical necessity, prevents long-lasting injuries, or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. The bill, however, does not allow for exemptions in cases where pregnancies were caused by rape, incest, or human trafficking.
“What we are saying today is that we will not let [abortion] happen in the state of Florida,” said the governor. “The bill today will provide protections for unborn children from abortion when the child reaches 15 weeks of gestational age. These are babies that have heartbeats, can feel pain, and can move. The bill also expands fetal mortality review committees across the state, which engage medical professionals and communities to review infant mortality cases and recommends reduction efforts tailored to their communities.”
GOP lawmakers in states like Oklahoma and Idaho have introduced similar abortion bans. Across the nation, Republicans in other states have emulated legislation after the bill in Texas, which effectively banned abortions after six weeks.
The Floridian version of the bill easily cleared committee hearings and floor votes, gaining near-unanimous support from the Florida Republican Party.
“Every child has the right to life,” said House Speaker Chris Sprowls. “Behind this stand is the most pro-life governor in America.”
Leon County 2nd Circuit judge Angela Dempsey yesterday dismissed a legal challenge to a 24-hour hold time between the time a pregnant woman seeks in-person counseling for abortion and when the procedure is conducted, claiming that other medical procedures have similar waiting periods.
“Florida has a compelling interest in promoting informed consent for abortions regardless of the stage of pregnancy, and a 24-hour waiting period is the shortest reasonable time to assure that women will be positioned to consider the required disclosures away from the pressures of a doctor’s office,” the motion said.
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Lauren Book, who gave a testimonial during a committee hearing in an attempt to have exceptions for rape and incest amended into the bill, spoke out immediately following the bill’s signing today.
“With the stroke of a pen, Governor DeSantis has forced the women of Florida back 50 years by robbing them of the reproductive rights established by our nation’s highest court in Roe vs. Wade. Florida Republicans claim we are the “Free State of Florida” – yet there is no freedom when women are denied access to critical healthcare and the ability to make decisions about their own bodies and their own lives, said Book. “This is nothing more than an authoritarian move by Florida Republicans. Florida will never be free while lawmakers turn a blind eye to women’s rights, victims’ rights, and the decent and basic needs of our citizens.”
Rep. Anna V. Eskamani, who previously served as a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood, also spoke out in opposition of the bill.
Governor Ron DeSantis just signed HB5 into law. This is a 15 week abortion ban w/no exceptions for rape, incest or human trafficking. The starting date is July 1st and we do expect litigation to challenge what is an unconstitutional law. My statement is below. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/qFxuIsdKMN
— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani 🔨 (@AnnaForFlorida) April 14, 2022
Similar to the Mississippi abortion law, Florida’s passing of the law could trigger a review by the U.S. Supreme Court. HB 5, which bans abortion after 15 weeks, could be ruled to be in violation of Roe v. Wade, which requires the legality of abortion operations until at least the 24th week of pregnancy.
Amid speculation that the Supreme Court could overrule Roe v. Wade this summer, states could be permitted to pass legislation at the discretion of state legislators, free of national regulation.