Gov. Ron DeSantis says he will sign the 15-week abortion ban passed out of the Legislature late Thursday, calling the protections “warranted.”
The Senate passed the proposal (HB 5) with a 23-15 near party-line vote late Thursday, marking the end of a monthslong battle between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans in the House and Senate did not surrender an inch, voting down exceptions in the case of rape and incest.
“I think the protections are warranted, and I think that we’ll be able to sign that in short order,” DeSantis told reporters in Jacksonville Friday morning.
Under the bill, a woman can only access abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy if two doctors agree on the consensus of a “fatal fetal abnormality.”
“These are protections for babies that have heartbeats, that can feel pain, and this is very, very late,” DeSantis said.
Florida’s bill, carried by Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel and Vero Beach Republican Rep. Erin Grall, passed against the backdrop of recently passed abortion bans in Texas and Mississippi that are being challenged in court. Texas’ “fetal heartbeat” bill, which asks private citizens to enforce the law, would effectively ban abortions after six weeks of gestation. However, Florida lawmakers based their legislation on Mississippi’s 15-week measure.
The U.S. Supreme Court, currently balanced 6-3 in favor of conservatives, has signaled it would uphold Mississippi’s law. By design, the bill tests the limits of Roe v. Wade.
With DeSantis’ signature, Florida’s abortion bill is set to take effect July 1.
“There’s obviously different legal cases that are out there that could potentially shed some light as well by July 1,” DeSantis said.
During his State of the State address in January, the Governor stressed the importance of the right to life. Following the speech, he told reporters he would sign a “very reasonable” 15-week ban.
Senators debated late into the night Thursday. Democratic lawmakers one-by-one made their case against the bill. Among other arguments, critics contend the bill will force women — particularly low-income women and minorities — to seek unsafe abortions.
According to a staff analysis, state officials in Florida recorded 209,645 live births in 2020 and 72,073 abortions — most of them elective. North Carolina will become the nearest state allowing abortion beyond 15 weeks if the bill is signed into law.
Jason Delgado of Florida Politics contributed to this report.