The Florida State Senate on Monday passed a bill that would ban most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
The bill, referred to as the “Heartbeat Protection Act,” would prohibit physicians from “knowingly performing or inducing a termination of pregnancy after the gestational age of the fetus is determined to be more than six weeks, rather than 15 weeks.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last year signed a law banning abortion after 15 weeks, with no exception for rape or incest. That law is being challenged in the state Supreme Court as a violation of the state’s right to privacy, and a decision is not expected until next month at the earliest. Monday’s bill, which passed 26-13, provides “an exception if the woman obtaining the abortion is doing so because she is a victim of rape, incest or human trafficking, subject to certain conditions.”
Two Republicans joined all Democrats in voting against the legislation. The bill passed amid shouts of protests from opponents in the Senate chamber. Dozens were arrested while protesting at city hall outside the Florida Capitol, including Florida’s Democratic party chair Nikki Fried and Senate Democratic leader Lauren Book.
The bill is now expected to go to DeSantis, who is expected to sign the proposed legislation. House Republicans are expected to pass their own version of the bill in the coming days.
The rape and incest exception would only be allowed up until 15 weeks of pregnancy. The person would also need to prove they are a victim by providing “a copy of a restraining order, police report, medical record, or other court order or documentation.”
The bill would also require medical abortion pills to be dispensed in person by a physician and would ban abortion care by telehealth, including mail-order abortion medication.
Health care providers who violate the ban could be charged with a third-degree felony, which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.
Florida is the only state in the Southeast that allows abortion even up to 15 weeks. States including Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana moved to ban abortion outright, with few exceptions, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last year.
Above: Protestors holding pro-abortion signs at demonstration in response to the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade last year.
Heidi Besen/Alamy Stock Photo