(Trends Wide) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed a Mississippi-style anti-abortion measure that bans the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy without exemptions for rape, incest or human trafficking.
The bill, which will go into effect on July 1, allows exemptions in cases where the pregnancy poses a “serious risk” to the mother or a fatal fetal abnormality is detected if two doctors confirm the diagnosis in writing.
The bill makes Florida the latest Republican-led state to advance a bill banning abortion after 15 weeks this session. In addition, the Kentucky legislature Wednesday overrode Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of a sweeping abortion bill that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. And in Oklahoma, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday approved a bill making abortion illegal in the state, with a single exception in a medical emergency.
The US Supreme Court appears poised to uphold Mississippi’s law banning abortion after 15 weeks. The fate of Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide also hangs in the balance, and anti-abortion activists are hopeful the court’s conservative majority will overturn it.
Previously, Florida allowed abortion until the second trimester of pregnancy, making it one of the most permissive states in the southeast of the country. Abortion advocates said many women from neighboring states used to travel to Florida to have the procedure, meaning changes in Florida law could be felt across the region.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Florida reported 71,914 abortions in 2019, or 18.5 per 1,000 women, the third highest rate in the country.
“We are here today to defend those who cannot defend themselves,” DeSantis said Thursday on a stage surrounded by several lawmakers, anti-abortion advocates and minors. “This will represent the most significant protections for life that we have seen in a generation.”
The bill’s passage comes days after a Tallahassee Circuit Court judge ruled that Florida can require a 24-hour waiting period for abortions, ending a seven-year legal battle over another controversial anti-abortion measure.
The state Senate passed the bill 23 to 15 votes on March 15, despite objections from Democrats, who shared painful and emotional stories of women who decided to abort after trauma. State Sen. Lauren Book, a Plantation Democrat and leader of the minority party, told her colleagues that she was the victim of rape and implored lawmakers to include an exemption for women who become pregnant as a result of sexual violence.
Book broke down in tears after the proposed amendment was rejected by Republicans, who hold a majority in the House.
President Joe Biden, in a March tweet, called Florida’s new abortion restriction “a dangerous bill that will severely restrict women’s access to reproductive health care.”