Florida Senate advances 6-week abortion ban backed by DeSantis

by Jacob Fuller

Matt Bush, FISM News

The Florida Senate passed a bill on Monday that would ban abortions after six weeks with some exceptions.

The bill, SB 300 or the Heartbeat Protection Act, passed in the Senate with a 26-13 margin and must pass the state House prior to heading to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis. All 11 Democrats and two Republicans opposed the bill’s passage, and the bill is expected to pass the House along party lines.

“Bodily autonomy should not give a person the permission to kill an innocent human being. We live in a time where the consequences of our actions are an afterthought and convenience has been substituted for responsibility, and this is unacceptable when it comes to the protection of the most vulnerable,” said Sen. Erin Grall, a Republican and the sponsor of the bill.

EXCEPTIONS FOR RAPE AND INCEST

There are exceptions for the six-week ban in cases of rape or incest and when the mother’s life is in danger because of the pregnancy. In the case of an exception, the mother must provide documentation like a medical or police report prior to the procedure.

ABORTION DRUGS

The Heartbeat Protection Act also tackles the issue of medication-induced abortions which make up more than half of all abortions nationwide. The bill requires medication to be dispensed in person, by a physician, a stipulation that would make telehealth abortions, as well as pharmacies dispensing abortion drugs, illegal in the state.

The bill would make it a felony to perform or participate in an abortion after six weeks unless one of the exceptions is met and proven.

PROTESTS HIT CAPITOL

Protesters interrupted the debate on the bill for 10 minutes before Senate President Kathleen Passidomo ordered security to remove them. The protest was organized by a nonprofit called “Women’s Voices of Southwest Florida” which exists to advocate for abortion access.

During their protest, they shouted things like “People will die,” and “Don’t like abortions? Ignore them like you ignore the 400,000 kids in foster care!” Included among the protestors who were arrested at the Capitol building were Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried and Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book.

THE SUPREME COURT HURTLE

SB 300 is expected to be signed into law by Gov. DeSantis, but the abortion ban would still not go into effect until another hurdle is cleared.

In April 2022, DeSantis signed HB 5, a law that banned abortions after 15 weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest. That law was challenged by Planned Parenthood and others claiming that the law would violate the state’s right to privacy laws.

Though the law was set to go into effect on July 1, the case made its way to the Florida Supreme Court where a ruling is not expected to be announced until sometime after the lawmaking session ends in May. The new six-week ban would only go into effect if the 15-week ban is upheld in that Supreme Court ruling.

DEMOCRATS CONTINUE ABORTION SUPPORT

The White House and other Democrats have been clear on their stance on abortion and on the six-week ban that passed the Florida Senate.

“Like the overwhelming majority of Americans, the president and the vice president believe women should be able to make health care decisions with their own doctors and families, free from political interference. Period,” Jean-Pierre said. “They are committed to protecting access to reproductive care and continuing to call on Congress to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade [the overruled Supreme Court abortion decision].”

In typical DeSantis fashion, his response to a six-week abortion ban was short and to the point.

“We’re for pro-life. I urge the legislature to work, produce good stuff, and we will sign,” DeSantis said in February. It looks like he will get his chance soon.

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