With the 2022 Florida legislative finally over, Gov. Ron DeSantis is preparing to sign into law a raft of new measures. None is more high profile than a Republican-sponsored abortion bill banning most procedures after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It creates new limitations in a state that has long been a safe haven for women in the South.
The state Senate finalized the bill, which reduces access to the procedure from 24 weeks to 15 weeks, at the beginning of March. According to Planned Parenthood, this would be the strictest abortion law in Florida’s history.
It is modeled after a Mississippi abortion law that has the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade — a famed 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that gave women expanded rights to an abortion — when it is reviewed by the justices by June of this year.
Nova University political science professor Dr. Charles Zelden described to SFMN the national push for stricter laws, especially in Republican-dominated states.
“Florida has a number of abortion clinics, whereas many Southern states are down to 1 or 2,” he said. “It’s part of a trend that’s happening nationally,” he said. “It’s a story that hasn’t fully played out yet in the Supreme Court.”
The Biden administration has denounced the bill, claiming it is an “erosion of women’s constitutional rights.”
“The right of women to make decisions about their own bodies is non-negotiable,” said Vice President Kamala Harris in a statement last week. “These efforts only strengthen our resolve: The Biden-Harris Administration will continue to do everything in our power to protect access to healthcare and defend a woman’s right to make decisions about her body and determine her future.”
The proposed legislation does not include exceptions for pregnancy as a result of rape, incest, or human trafficking. However, it does provide exceptions in cases where the pregnancy threatens the health or endangers the life of the mother.
Pregnancies in which two doctors detect a “fatal fetal abnormality” could also be terminated after 15 weeks under the bill. However, medical professionals say fetal abnormalities cannot be detected before then.
House Bill 5 This measure would take effect on July 1 if the bill is signed into law.
With a conservative majority in the court, anti-abortion activists hope that Roe v. Wade will be undone and reproductive rights will be determined entirely by state.
Political experts, including Zelden argue that this legislation will surely pass when it reaches Gov. DeSantis’ desk, as he plans to run for president in 2024.
“A pro-abortion stance in any manner will just about kill his chances of being elected in the future,” explains Zelden. “The way to get elected is not about reaching out to the middle. Supporting these abortion bans is a way to energize the excitement of the base to vote in the next general election.”