After hours of personally intense debate, the Florida House voted for a ban on all abortions in the state after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The ban is another step closer to becoming law, there are no exceptions for rape or incest.
Lawmakers debated, for 5 hours and 27 minutes, what would be the state’s most restrictive abortion law since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision established a woman’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has already said he supports the bill, giving the bill an expected green light.
The Senate is expected to pass it and Gov. Ron DeSantis will then sign into the law. But in the lead up to the early-morning vote, Republicans made their position quite clear: They don’t agree with past rulings by the U.S. and Florida Supreme Courts regarding abortion.
And some GOP legislators said they don’t think the current bill goes far enough. Passing the legislation will likely trigger yet another round of legal battles that won’t be cleared up until the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the coming months on a similar law from Mississippi.
The bill, HB 5, is likely to pass through the GOP-controlled Senate and land on Gov. Ron DeSantis’s desk without much input from the Democratic side. The debates over the bill ran all day Thursday, and none of the amendments introduced by Democrats, such as one that would provide an exception for rape and incest, made it through. If passed, the deadline for legal abortion would shorten from 24 weeks to 15 weeks and would only allow for exceptions in the cases of fetal abnormalities or extreme danger to the life of the mother.
“We should take steps toward ending this barbaric late-term abortion procedure because it destroys our humanity, and it strikes at the core of everything that is wrong with our communities in our country today,” said Florida state Rep. Erin Grall (R), who led the legislative effort.
“We have the opportunity today to pass once-in-a-lifetime legislation to save lives — to save babies,” said one of the bill’s sponsors, state Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka.
Florida’s House of Representatives approved a bill to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, part of a wave of Republican-backed anti-abortion measures pursued around the U.S. as the Supreme Court weighs the constitutionality of such limits https://t.co/1akCzfGuhQ pic.twitter.com/ihTw35w2xR
— Reuters (@Reuters) February 17, 2022
Gov. DeSantis said at the time, indicating his support for the bill:
“I think if you look at what’s been done in some of these other states — I mean when you start talking about 15 weeks, where you have really serious pain and heartbeats and all this stuff — having protections, I think, is something that makes a lot of sense.”
“I am supportive of 15 weeks,” he stated at a press conference on Jan. 19. “I think that’s very reasonable and very consistent with being supportive of protecting life. We’ll work with them as they kind of get through that process–I think that’ll be something we’ll be able to sign and I think a lot of people would be happy with that.”
The abortion bill is “modeled after the Mississippi abortion law that the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on this summer,” the Epoch Times reports.
Florida’s proposed law does not go as far as the Texas law, which prohibits abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and “empowers Texas citizen to enforce the law through the court remedies.”
The bill does not provide exceptions for rape and incest, but does allow for a fetus that is found to have a “fatal fetal abnormality.” The condition would have to be certified by two doctors.
Also, the legislation would allow for an abortion if it is deemed “necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life” or avert serious bodily injury.
— The Epoch Times (@EpochTimes) February 18, 2022
— Reuters (@Reuters) February 17, 2022