It will soon be illegal in Florida for many women in the fourth month of pregnancy to have an abortion. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 5, better known as the Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act, into law Thursday afternoon.
The signing took place at Nación De Fe, a church in Kissimmee.
“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.”
The law specifically states that “a physician may not perform a termination of pregnancy if the physician determines the gestational age of the fetus is more than 15 weeks.”
There are, however, exceptions to the rule.
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According to the law, abortions may be performed after 15 weeks if it is deemed necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life or avoid serious health risks that could lead to irreversible physical impairment. In most circumstances, two physicians would also have to sign off on the abortion in writing.
Abortion after 15 weeks of gestation may also still be possible if the fetus has not achieved “viability” and has a fatal abnormality, the law states.
The law will also require medical facilities that offer abortions to report monthly to the state how many abortions it performs, the reasons for them, the period of gestation at the time the abortion was performed and the number of infants born alive after an attempted abortion.
Meanwhile, critics of the law, especially Florida Democrats, argue that it makes no exemptions for rape, incest or human trafficking.
“Let me be clear: there is no such thing as a reasonable abortion ban. Nothing in this abortion ban is moderate, it is extreme. And despite impassioned please by Democrats to add exceptions for rape, incest and human trafficking they were each rejected. The only exceptions that do exist are very narrow,” Rep. Anna V. Eskamani, a Democrat from Orlando, said in a statement.
“Majority of Floridians overwhelmingly support abortion access. Polling tells us time and time again that this is seen as a personal medical decision that must remain between a person, their family, their doctor and their faith,” she continued.
The same day DeSantis signed the 15-week abortion ban into law, Florida Planned Parenthood announced in a tweet its intent to protect access to abortion and reproductive rights. It is currently accepting online donations to help do just that.
“Abortion is under attack in Florida. We need you. It’s time to hold politicians accountable and elect leaders who will defend and expand reproductive rights in our state,” its online fundraiser reads.
Florida Planned Parenthood also called the law “gross political interference in a personal and private medical decision.”
“Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t belong in the exam room or the governor’s mansion,” it said.
Many supporters of the law, however, have argued that 15 weeks is enough time for a woman to decide if she wants an abortion.
Video of DeSantis signing the bill into law is below:
The 15-week abortion law goes into effect July 1, 2022.
The new Florida law is similar to one in Mississippi that also bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. That law is currently being considered at the Supreme Court, according to NPR.