Florida Senate approves bill banning abortions after 15 weeks

by Trinity Cardinal

Chris Lange, FISM News


Florida’s Republican-led Senate on Thursday gave final passage to a bill banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, bringing the state closer to ratifying a gestational limit presently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

The bill was passed with a 23-15 vote and sent to Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign the measure into law.

“Governor DeSantis is pro-life and has voiced support for the concepts in this bill,” his spokesperson, Christina Pushaw, said earlier in the day, according to the New York Post.

“Every abortion kills a special and unique human being who deserves protection under the laws of this state and the chance to grow up in a loving family,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson ® in a statement. “Growing up as an adopted child in a family that took in foster children, it has always been important to me that our state do everything we can to promote adoption as an alternative to abortion. Floridians can be proud that we live in a state that not only protects innocent, unborn life, but also supports children and parents.”

The bill, which was approved last month by Florida’s Republican-majority House of Representatives, significantly restricts access to late-term abortions. Florida currently permits abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy with no mandatory waiting period, which means a woman can abort her baby the same day she arrives at a clinic.

The 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.

Republicans voted down an amendment to the bill that would have made additional exceptions for rape, incest, and human trafficking. Democratic lawmakers who supported the amendment called on their colleagues to consider the emotional hardship victims of sexual assault would endure under the measure. “We’re better than this,” state Senator Victor Torres said.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Senator Kelli Stargel, however, rejected the premise that a “child should be killed because of the circumstances in which it was conceived.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida is already preparing a lawsuit to fight the legislation, citing a privacy clause in Florida’s constitution that protects against government “intrusion” in residents’ private lives.

Republican lawmakers around the country have introduced stricter abortion laws following Mississippi’s passage of a 15-week abortion ban in 2018, now under consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court. Pro-abortion advocates fear a ruling in Mississippi’s favor will weaken Roe v. Wade, which established a woman’s right to end her pregnancy up to 24 weeks, representing the period of gestation once thought to demark a fetus’ viability threshold. Indeed, the state of Mississippi in Jackson Women’s Health Organization v. Dobbs is asking the high court to overturn Roe altogether. A ruling is expected this spring.

Last month, Arizona’s Senate and West Virginia’s House both approved 15-week abortion bans, and Idaho’s state Senate on Thursday passed a six-week abortion ban mirrored after Texas’ “heartbeat bill.” 

Since the passage of Roe v. Wade  in 1973, advancements in medical science have provided undeniable evidence that a human fetus has a detectable heartbeat as early as six weeks, forming the basis of legal arguments supporting abortion bans and sanctity of life protections. A January poll found that a majority of Americans (71%)  favor abortion restrictions.

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