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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law Thursday a bill that bans late-term abortions in the Sunshine State. The new law, which will go into effect on July 1, draws the line at 15 weeks of pregnancy and provides exceptions for abnormalities in the fetus which could cause death to either the fetus or the mother. It does not, however, do the same for cases of rape, incest or pregnancy as a result of human trafficking.
“House Bill 5 protects babies in the womb who have beating hearts, who can move, who can taste, who can see, and who can feel pain,” DeSantis said.
“Life is a sacred gift worthy of our protection, and I am proud to sign this great piece of legislation which represents the most significant protections for life in the state’s modern history.”
“We are here today to protect life. We are here to defend those who can’t defend themselves,” he added. “It’s a statement of our values that every life is important.”
Florida Enacts Protections for Unborn Babies at 15 Weeks https://t.co/IeOANY8LxM
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 14, 2022
The “Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act” as it is named, reduces the number of weeks in which an abortion is legal. Prior to the signing of the bill, abortions in the state were legal for up to 24 weeks, Fox News reported.
The law also provides for the allocation of funds to expand the number of infant mortality review boards in Florida, and it is dovetailed with the governor’s initiatives to promote the nuclear family.
“If you’re looking at what we’ve done this week, we’re promoting fatherhood in Florida,” DeSantis said. “We want our kids to have dads in the home. We want the fathers present and to take responsibility. It’s the most important thing you can do is to take responsibility for the upbringing of your kids.”
The new law is a continuation of bills signed by DeSantis over the last two years that increase protections for the unborn. In 2020, SB 404, which requires written consent from a parent or guardian in cases where a minor seeks an abortion. More recently, the governor signed SB 2518 into law in 2021, which extends postpartum eligibility for Medicaid from 60 days to 12 months after birth.
Another bill, HB 7065, was signed earlier this week that includes “educational programs, mentorship programs, and one-on-one support to encourage responsible and involved fatherhood in Florida.” And after seven years of court battles, the state’s 24-hour waiting period for abortions was upheld by a circuit court judge last week.
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) April 14, 2022
The governor was joined at the signing by a host of supporters both young and old. Some shared stories of their own abortions and the regret they have endured as a result, Fox News reported.
“There are two types of people that have led me to speak up,” said Heather Grall-Barwick, who reportedly had an abortion when she was 21. “The women who say that abortion does not cause mental distress, and the women in their 70s who had abortions and testified that just now they’re able to speak about them and the regret that they have felt for over 40 years.”
“I made a mistake that I cannot change, but I can let others learn from my mistake,” she added.
There are, of course, many in opposition who feel the legislation is burdensome for those seeking an abortion in Florida, the Daily Mail reported, incidentally referring to abortion as a “right.”
“Nobody should be forced to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles for essential health care — but in signing this bill, Gov. DeSantis will be forcing Floridians seeking abortion to do just that,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund in a statement.
“Floridians want to be able to make decisions about their health and their families, without interference from politicians,” Johnson continued. “They want the protections guaranteed by their state’s constitution. This ban runs counter to all of these goals.”
Ardent supporters of the legislation see it as “a milestone victory.”
“Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature have delivered a milestone victory for women and children,” Susan B. Anthony’s List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement. “The legislation enacted today may save more than 3,300 lives a year by protecting unborn children, as well as their mothers, from cruel and dangerous late abortions.”
HB 5 was sponsored by Florida State Senator Kelli Stargel, who declared, “These are babies. It’s an individual inside that woman that has a separate DNA, a separate body, a separate person. And the question we’re asking ourselves is, when does that baby in the womb have the same rights as the mother that’s carrying it with that right to be able to live and to thrive and to grow?”
Access to abortion has been arguably the most divisive issue between liberals and conservatives in America for decades and certainly since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973 – a ruling that Justice Clarence Thomas maintains was wrongly decided and may as yet be overturned as the high court considers arguments in the Mississippi case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
The dichotomy among these United States as it relates to abortion is perhaps most sharply-defined in the laws of Florida and Colorado, for example. In the latter’s case, Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law in April that allows for abortions up to birth and seemingly has zero restrictions in its language.
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