OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed HB 5 into law, a measure banning Florida doctors from performing abortions after 15 weeks of gestation.
Speaking from Nación De Fe, a church on Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway in Kissimmee, DeSantis said he was there to protect life.
“(HB 5) protects the rights of unborn children starting at 15 weeks. This is a time where these babies have beating hearts, they can move, they can taste, they can see, they can feel pain, they can suck their thumbs, and they have brainwaves,” DeSantis said. ”So this will represent the most significant protections for life that have been enacted in this state and the generation.”
Read HB 5 by clicking here.
The law defines gestation “as calculated from the first day of the pregnant woman’s last menstrual period,” stipulating that “a physician may not perform a termination of pregnancy if the physician determines the gestational age of the fetus is more than 15 weeks.” According to the Mayo Clinic, though a woman’s last menstrual period is counted as part of their pregnancy, they aren’t actually considered “pregnant” until around two weeks after the first day of said period, when conception typically occurs.
The measure was sent to the governor after a party-line vote in the state Senate last month. The law also contains about five pages concerning statewide tobacco education and use prevention programs, and it sets aside over $1.6 million for the 2022-23 fiscal year to fund fetal infant mortality review committees statewide.
Physicians who perform abortions in Florida under allowed circumstances — including after 15 weeks of gestation as defined in the law if two physicians submit in writing that a pregnant woman could die or be irreversibly impaired physically, but not mentally, without an abortion — must report them to the Agency for Health Care Administration on a monthly basis, the law states.
HB 5 does not include exceptions for victims of rape, incest or human trafficking.
At the conference, Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson said he, DeSantis and other lawmakers had a duty to protect lives.
“Abortion kills children and forever changes the life of mothers, the father and the entire extended family. Every unborn child is a special and unique human being deserving of protection from harm and the chance to grow up in a loving family,” Simpson said.
Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls said at the conference that every child has a right to life.
“Like many of you, I believe that life is a gift from God,” Sprowls said. “We are blessed to be Floridians because behind me stands the most pro-life governor in America.”
State Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-District 22, said she never dreamed such a day would come and hoped to eventually see Roe v. Wade overturned.
“There is no pregnancy that’s unplanned. God had a plan for every single child that he allowed to be conceived,” Stargel said.
Gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-District 13, issued the following statement ahead of event.
Rep. Anna Eskamani voted no to the bill. She said it’s unconstitutional and expects there may be legal action on the way here in Florida.
“We’ve fought against this bill, and I’m really disappointed that it’s not only an abortion ban but it has no exceptions for rape, incest or human trafficking,” Eskamani said. “The reality is the decisions around someone’s pregnancy are really personal and private. Whether you decide to decide to become a parent and raise a child, choose adoption, or end a pregnancy, we should support you.”
But, Rep. Randy Fine said the bill was necessary.
“I’m really pleased that the legislator could pass a bill that is going to protect unborn life,” said Florida State Representative Randy Fine. “I believe we need to protect unborn life, we need to protect babies and we’ve said after 15 weeks, if you have not had an abortion in that first 15 weeks, you need to carry that baby to term.”
The law will go into effect July 1.