TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law banning abortions for 15 weeks Thursday, as the state joined a growing conservative campaign to restrict access to the procedure before of a US Supreme Court decision that could roll back abortion rights. In America.
“This will represent the most important protections for life that have been enacted in this state in a generation,” DeSantis said as he signed the bill at an evangelical church in the city of Kissimmee.
Republicans across the country have moved to impose new restrictions on abortion after the US Supreme Court signaled it would uphold a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks. the high court The decision, expected this summer, could potentially weaken or overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established abortion rights across the country.
The law DeSantis signed Thursday also deals a blow to overall access to abortion in the South, where Florida has provided broader access to the procedure than its regional neighbors.
The new law, which takes effect July 1, contains exceptions if the abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother, prevent serious injury, or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow exemptions in cases where the pregnancies were caused by rape, incest or human trafficking, despite several Democratic attempts to amend the bill. Under current law, Florida allows abortions up to 24 weeks.
Debate over the proposal became deeply personal and revealing within the legislature, as lawmakers recalled. her own abortions and experiences with sexual assault in often tearful speeches on the floors of the House and Senate. Republicans have repeatedly said the 15-week ban is reasonable.
A federal report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said about 2% of the nearly 72,000 abortions reported in Florida in 2019 were performed after 15 weeks. That same year, 2,256 out-of-state residents had abortions in Florida, the majority, or about 1,200, from Georgia and more than 300 from Alabama, according to the CDC. The origin of the remaining patients was unclear.
Democrats were quick to criticize the new law after it was signed.
“Politicians don’t have to come between a patient and their doctor,” said House Democratic Leader Evan Jenne. “This 15-week abortion ban strips every woman of the right to make personal decisions that should only be made by herself, her family, her doctor and her faith.”
The legislation came a few months after the US Supreme Court’s conservative majority indicated it would uphold Mississippi’s 15-week ban. There has also been substantial support among conservative justices for ditching Roe altogether.
If Roe is struck down, 26 states are certain or likely to ban or severely restrict abortion quickly, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank that supports abortion rights. During the debate on the Florida legislation, as well as at the bill’s signing ceremony, Republicans said they want the state to be well positioned to limit access to abortions if the Supreme Court upholds the Mississippi law.
“The reality of the Roe decision is that the men on the Supreme Court proclaimed that women, to achieve equality with men, must be able to kill their own children,” said Rep. Erin Grall, a Republican who sponsored the bill. “As a woman, I refuse to accept such a perverse version of equality.”
Elsewhere in the US, Republican lawmakers have introduced new restrictions on abortion, some similar to those in Texas. law that prohibits abortion after approximately six weeks and leaves the application in the hands of private citizens.
Oklahoma Republican Governor Kevin Stitt recently signed a bill to make it a felony to perform an abortion, punishable by up to a decade in prison. Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey signed legislation in March to ban abortions after 15 weeks if the US Supreme Court upholds the Mississippi law.
AP journalist Adriana Gómez Licón contributed from Miami.