Florida joins other Southeastern states with strict abortion limits

The law changes the state's abortion restriction from 15 weeks to six weeks.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis answers questions from the media
Posted at 1:56 PM, May 01, 2024

Starting Wednesday, Florida becomes the latest state to institute a six-week abortion ban, and the change makes access to abortion in the entire Southeastern U.S. incredibly limited.

It's been one year since Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill banning abortion after six weeks. Legal challenges put the law on hold, but the state Supreme Court cleared the way April 1.

That changes the state's abortion restriction from 15 weeks to six weeks, before many people even know they're pregnant.

Twenty-one states have significantly restricted reproductive rights since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade nearly two years ago. And in the Southeast, the impact is very pronounced. Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi all have strict abortion bans. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina now all have bans prohibiting abortions at six or 12 weeks.

Rep. Nikema Williams of Georgia said, "[Florida's new law] is going to have dire consequences for women across the entire southeast."

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Georgia instituted a six-week abortion ban in July 2022, and Williams says the negative impact of that ban is clear.

"What we're seeing is women are trying to get the care that they need by having to travel hundreds of miles for health care. And for the first time in over a decade, our maternal mortality rates have actually gotten worse in the state of Georgia," said Williams.

Reproductive rights will be a key issue this November. In a series of highway billboards throughout Florida, the Democratic National Committee is stressing how far someone would need to travel to access an abortion under the new law.

The abortion debate is not over yet in Florida. In November, Floridians will vote on a constitutional amendment that would allow abortions up to fetal viability, which is typically around 24 weeks.