The ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy passed by Florida lawmakers earlier this year could be further reduced to 12 weeks next year, one of the top legislative leaders said Thursday. But the Legislature might need to wait until the courts rule on the current law before they move forward with further restrictions.
“We can’t really do anything until the (Florida) Supreme Court weighs in on the 15-week (restriction). As you all know it’s in litigation,” Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican, told reporters in her Capitol office.
A lawsuit brought by a group of abortion clinics represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida is seeking to strike down the law. A trial court judge issued a temporary injunction against the measure, but an appellate court overturned it, so the ban is in effect as it is being appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.
Those violating the law could be sentenced to up to five years in prison and doctors could lose their licenses and face fines of up to $10,000 per violation.
The law doesn’t contain an exception for victims of rape and incest, which Passidomo says she supports. An amendment offered by Democrats to insert those exceptions failed on a voice vote in the Senate earlier this year.
“I felt we should have included an exception for rape and incest in the bill that we passed,” Passidomo said. “I advocated for it but like everything the bill had been agreed upon, et cetera. So, it didn’t pass with the exception.”
If the Senate moves forward with a bill to reduce the window for legal abortions to 12 weeks, she’d want to include those exceptions.
Passidomo also added that she hasn’t discussed the issue with Gov. Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis later Thursday said he’d sign a bill banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Previously he has also indicated he’s waiting to see what the courts decide on the 15-week abortion ban before moving forward with more restrictions.