Florida’s 6-Week Abortion Limit Takes Effect

Samantha Flom
By Samantha Flom
May 1, 2024US News
Florida’s 6-Week Abortion Limit Takes Effect
The examination room in A Woman's Choice of Jacksonville clinic, which provides abortion care in Jacksonville, Fla., on April 30, 2024. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

As a Florida law prohibiting abortions after six weeks’ gestation took effect on May 1, it was met with a chorus of doomsday predictions from abortion proponents across the country.

“We join with millions across the country in outrage at this anti-women attack,” the Party for Socialism and Liberation posted on social media, calling for the codification of a federal right to abortion.

The Florida Democratic Party issued an “urgent” warning that women were “losing their rights in Florida,” a message Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to echo at an event in Jacksonville later on Wednesday.

The reactions drew a tongue-in-cheek response from 40 Days for Life president and CEO Shawn Carney.

“The Florida 6-week abortion ban is going into effect and something insane and apocalyptic will happen. The sun will come up the next day and no women will die,” Mr. Carney wrote on social media platform X.

The law includes limited exceptions for situations involving rape, incest, human trafficking, or a serious threat to the mother’s physical health.

However, its enforcement may be short-lived.

On the same day that a Florida Supreme Court ruling paved the way for the limit to take effect, the court also ruled that a ballot measure to create a constitutional right to abortion could appear on the state’s general election ballot.

Specifically, the amendment would prohibit the state from regulating abortion “before viability, or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider.”

The text also states that it would not alter lawmakers’ authority to require parental notification for minors seeking abortions.

Florida’s Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody had challenged the amendment’s language as deceptive and misleading for its lack of a clear definition of “viability” or specifics as to whether the patient’s healthcare provider must be a doctor.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has raised the same concerns, noting that the law may allow parental notification but would still erase the state’s current requirement of parental consent for abortions obtained by minors.

Addressing the amendment on April 30, Mr. DeSantis said he believed it was deliberately crafted to deceive voters into adopting a law they don’t support.

“That’s why they pour millions and millions of dollars into doing this stuff … There’s people that will benefit financially if these things pass, and that’s what’s driving this, is the ability for people to line their pockets,” he told reporters at a press conference.

The governor added that he thought voters would reject the initiative if they were made aware of its full extent.

Floridians will have the opportunity to prove him right or wrong in November. But until then, most abortions in the state will be restricted to within the first six weeks of pregnancy.

In the days leading up to the new law’s enforcement, abortion clinics across the state rushed to squeeze in as many patients as possible, with some espousing fears that they would have to close their doors.

“We’re going to be open until I run out of the last penny that I have,” said Leda Lanza, manager of East Cypress Women’s Center in the Fort Lauderdale area.

Likewise, abortion funds, which help lower-income patients pay for the procedure and other related costs, braced for a spike in travel expenses for patients seeking abortions out-of-state.

“It’s going to be a lot harder and a lot more expensive to help the same number of people. We’re going to try to maintain this as best we can, but we are very afraid,” said Daniela Martins, a board member at Women’s Emergency Network, a Miami-area abortion fund.

In recent years, Florida has served as a haven for abortion seekers from the neighboring states of Alabama and Georgia, where abortion restrictions tightened amid the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

State data show that in 2023, roughly 7,700 of about 84,000 abortions performed in Florida were for out-of-state residents, a near 60 percent increase over two years prior.

Now, for at least the next several months, women will need to look elsewhere if they want to procure an abortion past six weeks.

Jacob Burg and Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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