On Tuesday, lawmakers in Florida introduced two bills that would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which is before most women even know they are pregnant.
The proposals are similar to the Mississippi law that the U.S. Supreme Court is currently reviewing. According to the House bill, a doctor may not perform an abortion “if the physician determines the gestational age of the fetus is more than 15 weeks.”
The proposals do not include an exception for rape. The only exceptions are:
- Two physicians certify that the termination of the pregnancy is necessary to save the mother’s life
- If one physician says the termination is necessary to save the mother’s life and another physician is not available
- Two physicians agree the fetus had not achieved viability or has a fatal abnormality
Florida’s Republican House Speaker Chris Sprowls highlighted HB5 as one of the top five bills filed.
“The Florida House remains steadfast in our commitment to Florida’s children, both born and unborn,” Sprowls said in a statement.
Republican state representative Anthony Sabatini said the proposal is a good step in the right direction.
“I think it’s evil to kill a child just because it’s inconvenient. I think if somebody wants to give a child up to adoption, that’s fine and respectable. But killing the kid, I think, is terribly wrong and evil and it should be outlawed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Democratic state representative Anna Eskamani is sounding the alarm.
“It’s dangerous,” she said. “It tries to make abortion bans look palpable, look more moderate. But the reality is that a 15-week abortion ban would force someone who is trying to enter pregnancy after that period to potentially have to travel to North Carolina if Roe v Wade is gone. So we are pushing some of the most marginalized Floridians to the edge.”
Governor Ron Desantis has not endorsed these new proposals yet, but said on Tuesday that he welcomes pro-life legislation.
“When you start talking about 15 weeks where you have really serious pain and heartbeats and all this stuff, having protections is something that makes a lot of sense,” he said to reporters after delivering his State of the State Address.
Eskamani pointed out that the bill is called the “Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality” and does not include the word ‘abortion.’ She said she believes that is a strategic move.
“It’s clear to me that Republicans don’t want to call this an abortion ban which is why the bill is given a different name because they know that Floridians don’t support abortion bans, so they can try to pass this under a disguise that they can avoid the backlash,” she said. “And I’m here to make sure that folks realize that we can’t be fooled, this is an extreme abortion ban. We can’t be fooled. This is an extreme abortion ban. It would have very dangerous consequences for people and women in Florida.”
Sabatini said he thinks the proposal does not go far enough.
“This particular bill is not a total ban on abortion,” he said. “I believe we should ban abortions for any child that has a heartbeat, unborn child with a heartbeat, which would be about 8 weeks. This is 15 weeks. But it’s still a good first step and I support it.”
The proposed laws also set standards for where and how abortions are performed. Medical facilities that perform abortions must submit monthly reports to the Florida Department of Health.
If passed, the law would take effect on July 1.