Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs 6-week abortion ban into law

The six-week ban will take effect only if the state's current 15-week ban is upheld in an ongoing legal challenge before the state Supreme Court.
Posted at 9:28 AM, Apr 14, 2023

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Heartbeat Protection Act into law Thursday. SB300 prohibits abortions once the unborn child has a detectable heartbeat.

In a statement, DeSantis said, "We are proud to support life and family in the state of Florida. I applaud the Legislature for passing the Heartbeat Protection Act that expands pro-life protections and provides additional resources for young mothers and families."

SB300 calls for a six-week ban on abortions, although it is contingent on whether Florida's 15-week ban is upheld by the state's Supreme Court. 

"The Heartbeat Protection Act builds on Florida's strong track record of protecting the most vulnerable, especially the unborn, and strengthens state efforts to promote adoption, and support families, with significant resources to benefit infants, young children, and parents, which we hope will encourage more Floridians in difficult and unplanned situations to choose life for their babies," said Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo.

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She continued to outline the fact that SB300 includes exceptions for rape, incest, and human trafficking, in addition to those already available for the life of the mother. Furthermore, it allows for abortions "when parents are facing the heartbreaking diagnosis of a fatal fetal abnormality."

But, abortion advocates have highlighted the fact that those who menstruate often don't know they're pregnant by the six-week timeline. 

"As a result, this bill means many pregnant people will never have the option to have an abortion. Moreover, between the 24-hour mandatory delay and two appointment requirements, even patients who realize they are pregnant before six weeks may be unable to access abortion care before they run out of time," Senator Erin Grall and Representative Jenna Persons-Mulicka said in a statement.

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The Heartbeat Protection Act also bans physicians from actively participating in an abortion in violation of the six-week timeline. In addition, the abortion must be performed in person by a physician, and medication cannot be delivered by mail. 

The White House responded to Florida's passage of the bill in a statement, echoing the timeline concern that prevents "four million Florida women of reproductive age from accessing abortion care after six weeks — before many women even know they're pregnant." 

"This ban would also impact the nearly 15 million women of reproductive age who live in abortion-banning states throughout the South, many of whom have previously relied on travel to Florida as an option to access care," the White House continued to say.

"From Ron DeSantis down, many lawmakers in Florida will stop at nothing to take away our freedom to make decisions about our own bodies. Despite clear evidence of harm, they have doubled down on abortion bans to deprive millions of people of essential health care," said Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Alexis McGill Johnson in a press release in response to the legislation. "These policy decisions disproportionately hurt Black and Latino people, LGBTQ+ people, and people with low incomes due to systemic racism and discrimination." 

Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book took to Twitter to show her frustration, stating that the passage of this legislation is "not freedom." 

"Florida's new abortion ban turns back the clock on women's rights and essential freedoms — bringing the government into exam rooms and criminalizing women and their doctors over private health care decisions,"tweeted Book.