OAN Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 6:29 PM – Thursday, April 13, 2023
The Republican-led Florida legislature enacted a law on Thursday outlawing the majority of abortions beyond six weeks and forwarded it to Governor Ron DeSantis. DeSantis has declared that he will sign the bill into law.
After the State Senate passed the bill on April 3rd, the final decision came after a protracted State House hearing passed the proposal in a 70-40 vote, largely along party lines.
Despite fierce opposition from Democrats in the chamber, Republican supermajorities in both chambers significantly outweighed them.
After demonstrators tossed what looked to be papers on the House floor, Republican House Speaker Paul Renner (R-Fla.) was forced to shut down the public viewing areas.
DeSantis (R-Fla.) has expressed support for the law SB 300, but its passage places him in a precarious political position. He’s reportedly thinking about running for president in 2024, however, most public polls have indicated that neither Republican nor Democrat majorities support a six-week abortion ban. Yet, entering a Republican presidential primary on the heels of vetoing or opposing legislation that would increase restrictions on abortion runs the risk of going against a fundamental tenet of the GOP platform.
With new exceptions for rape and incest up until 15 weeks of pregnancy, the proposed law outlaws abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The current law’s exemption for the mother’s life and health up until 15 weeks are unaffected by the bill.
Republican State Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Fla.) requested the new exemptions, and other GOP members supported her request. Additionally, the measure allocates $25 million for Florida Pregnancy Care Network Inc., a network of nonprofit organizations that provides pregnancy support services.
Since it was submitted on March 7th, just before DeSantis delivered his speech on the first day of the 2023 legislative session, the idea has been the target of objections and protests.
After many outbursts from opponents of the bill during last week’s floor debate in the Florida State Senate, Passidomo had to remove the public gallery above her chamber.
Nearly a dozen people were detained that evening while opposing the bill outside of Tallahassee City Hall, which is close to the state Capitol. Among those detained was the chairwoman of the Florida Democrat Party, Nikki Fried (D-Fla.), and the state Senate Democrat Leader, Lauren Book (D-Fla.).
A number of demonstrators shouted against the bill for several days in front of a courthouse across from the Capitol before it went to the House vote.
“There is nothing I am saying that will change the hearts and minds of my friends on the other side of the aisle… That’s not what this is about. This is about holding up the flagship commitment I made … which is to give voice to the voiceless,” said Republican state Rep. Chase Tramont (R-Fla.).
Democrats said that the measure would further restrict a person’s freedom of choice and have a detrimental effect on their access to health care.
“The right to bodily autonomy is an innate right… My body is mine. We do not want unclear laws and muddy waters,” said Democrat Rep. Robin Bartleman (D-Fla.).
Women in the Southeast have been traveling to Florida for abortions after neighboring states like Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama outlawed the procedure. This is due to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2022 that determined that there is no constitutional right to an abortion.
This decision followed a legal challenge that resulted from Mississippi’s passage of a 15-week abortion ban.
“Here in Florida we take care of patients within the state of Florida, and many people traveling not only from nearby states but those much farther away,” said Doctor Shelly Tien, who works at Planned Parenthood.
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