The Florida legislature on Thursday approved a ban on abortion after six weeks gestation, before many women know they’re pregnant. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign the bill into law, ending the state’s status as an abortion destination for women throughout the South and likely forcing many to travel even farther to access care.
As we reported in May 2022, Florida, despite its conservatism, has been a bastion of abortion access since the 1980s, when voters enshrined a right to privacy in the state constitution. After Roe v. Wade was overturned, Florida banned abortion after 15 weeks gestation but remained a destination for people who lived in nearby states with even more restrictive—or total—abortion bans. The 15-week ban (and by extension the restriction at six weeks) remains in legal jeopardy as the Florida Supreme Court decides whether the state’s right to privacy extends to abortion care.
The new bill includes exceptions for rape, incest, and human trafficking up to 15 weeks, but only if women provide documentation proving their circumstances. Seven Republicans broke with their party to vote against the ban.
The law will likely be politically fraught for DeSantis, ahead of his widely expected presidential campaign. Since the overturning of Roe, abortion rights have consistently won elections, even in red states like Kansas. Furthermore, public opinion polls have routinely shown that voters in Florida, like voters throughout the country, oppose abortion bans.
“We have got to stop imposing our personal beliefs on other people and do what’s right for people,” Democratic state Rep. Dianne Hart said on Thursday, the Tallahassee Democrat reported. “Illegal abortions will be on the rise, and we will return to some very, very dark ages where people will die as a result of their inability to get a legal abortion.”