Bill Banning Abortion After 15 Weeks Passes Florida House Along Party Lines

Naveen Athrappully
By Naveen Athrappully
February 18, 2022US News
Bill Banning Abortion After 15 Weeks Passes Florida House Along Party Lines
A women's examination/procedure room in a file photo. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

The Florida House of Representatives has passed a bill that will ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, sending it to the state Senate.

The Republican-controlled House passed the 15-week abortion ban bill (pdf) after debating with Democrats for several hours. While Republicans argued that the bill would protect unborn babies, Democrats asserted that the bill burdens women unnecessarily.

Just moments before midnight on Feb. 16, the bill was passed 78–39 along party lines. The GOP-controlled Senate is expected to pass the bill. Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis had earlier signaled that he supports the bill.

“This is the right to life and to give up life is unconscionable to me,” Republican Representative Dana Trabulsy said, according to Associated Press. The lawmaker revealed that she earlier had an abortion but “regretted it every day since.”

Democrat Representative Robin Bartleman spoke against the abortion ban, insisting that it is her right as a woman to make decisions about her body. “God forbid your 11-year-old is raped and pregnant and you find out after 15 weeks, you don’t get to get your daughter that abortion, that’s what this law says,” Bartleman said.

The “HB5-Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality” abortion bill defines a medical abortion as the “administration or use of an abortion-inducing drug to induce abortion.” Once a physician determines that a fetus is at least 15 weeks old, he is prohibited from terminating the pregnancy according to the bill, except under two situations.

The first is when “two physicians certify in writing that, in reasonable medical judgment, the termination of the pregnancy is necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life or avert a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman other than a psychological condition.”

During an emergency situation, a single physician is allowed to certify an abortion provided all other conditions are met.

The second situation is when the fetus has not achieved “viability” as defined under Florida Statute 390.01112. Two physicians will have to certify in writing that the fetus has a fatal fetal abnormality.

Abortions will not be allowed even if the pregnancy is the result of incest or rape. At present, Florida allows abortions up to 24 weeks after pregnancy. No mandatory waiting period is necessary at the moment, meaning that a woman can enter a clinic and immediately terminate her pregnancy.

Back in 2018, the state of Mississippi had introduced a 15-week abortion ban. This is currently under review at the Supreme Court. Lower courts had earlier deemed the law as unconstitutional.

Following Mississippi, Republican lawmakers have been pushing for a similar 15-week abortion bill in other states. Recently, West Virginia’s House and Arizona’s Senate passed similar bills.

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