Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed into law a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a restriction the U.S. Supreme Court could soon declare to be constitutional when it finishes reviewing a similar Mississippi ban this spring.
The law, which is due to go into effect July 1, will significantly reduce the practice of infanticide in Florida and neighboring states. Women across the region currently travel hundreds of miles to end pregnancies in Florida because of stricter abortion laws in surrounding states.
The state currently permits abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
“This will represent the most significant protections for life that have been enacted in this state in a generation,” DeSantis said at a news conference before signing the bill.
The new measure makes exceptions to the 15-week restriction only in cases when the mother is at risk of death or “irreversible physical impairment,” or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. Republican state senators defeated an amendment that would have made exceptions for rape, incest and human trafficking.
“Nobody should be forced to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles for essential health care — but in signing this bill, Gov. DeSantis will be forcing Floridians seeking abortion to do just that,” Planned Parenthood Action Fund president Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement.
Florida becomes the most recent Republican-led state to pass legislation protecting the lives of the unborn, with the anticipation that the U.S. Supreme Court will reinstate a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi this spring. The court, with a 6-3 conservative majority, expressed openness to Mississippi’s case during oral arguments in December.
The court’s decision could overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade precedent, which established the right to abortion before the fetus is “viable,” and paves the way for states to successfully pass stricter bans.
On Wednesday, Kentucky’s legislature also enacted a sweeping anti-abortion bill that has suspended abortions in the state, pending legal challenges. On Tuesday, Oklahoma’s governor signed a near-total abortion ban into law, which would take effect this summer.
Florida’s law is the second 15-week ban that has been enacted this year, after Arizona’s Republican governor signed a similar measure last month.
Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters (Additions and edits for FISM News by Michael Cardinal)