TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida House of Representatives approved a bill that would ban most abortions after six weeks Thursday, sending the measure to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The vote in the House was 70 to 40, mostly on party lines. You can see how your lawmaker voted on the Florida House website. Seven Republicans joined Democrats against the bill.
The bill, SB 300, was approved by the Florida Senate on April 3, which brought demonstrations at the state’s capitol that resulted in the arrest of the leader of the Florida Democratic Party and a state senator by city police.
Florida law currently prohibits abortions in most cases after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
A six-week ban would more closely align Florida with the abortion restrictions of other Republican-controlled states and give DeSantis a political win on an issue important with GOP primary voters ahead of a potential White House run.
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“We have the opportunity to lead the national debate about the importance of protecting life and giving every child the opportunity to be born and find his or her purpose,” said Republican Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka, who carried the bill in the House.
Florida Democrats and groups advocating for abortion rights say this proposal disproportionally affects low-income women and people of color. They proposed several amendments to try to loosen restrictions on the bill. All of them were shot down by the Republican supermajority.
“Have we learned nothing?” House Democratic Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell said of recent elections in other states. “Do we not listen to our constituents and to the people of Florida and what they are asking for?”
The bill will have larger implications for abortion access throughout the South, as the nearby states of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi prohibit the procedure at all stages of pregnancy and Georgia bans it after cardiac activity can be detected, which is around six weeks.
The proposal allows exceptions to save the life of the woman and exceptions in the case of pregnancy caused by rape or incest until 15 weeks of pregnancy. In those cases, a woman would have to provide documentation such as a medical record, restraining order or police report. DeSantis has called the rape and incest provisions sensible.
It will require that the drugs used in medication-induced abortions — which make up the majority of those provided nationally — could be dispensed only in person by a physician.
The new bill will only take effect if the state’s current 15-week ban is upheld in an ongoing legal challenge that is before the state Supreme Court.
Republicans control a supermajority in the Legislature and have largely focused on DeSantis’ priorities during the ongoing legislative session. DeSantis is expected to announce his presidential candidacy after the session ends in May, with his potential White House run in part buoyed by the conservative policies approved in the statehouse this year.
Democrats conceded that they could not stop the proposal from moving forward.
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