The Florida House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday that protects unborn children by prohibiting abortion procedures after the 15th week of pregnancy. The state House advanced the measure by a nearly unbroken party-line 78-39 vote. One Republican supported the bill, and one Democrat voted against it.
The Florida state Senate has already introduced a companion bill. It is scheduled to take it up on a floor vote after moving out of the legislative committee later this month. State Senate Republican sponsor of the bill Kelli Stargel said that having once been a “scared teenage mother” herself, she understands the stress involved in facing an unplanned pregnancy. She added that Florida women and children “deserve better than abortion.”
Republican Governor Ron DeSantis said that he would support a 15-week abortion bill, although he did not express the specific bill just passed by the House. He said at the time that there is a “lot of pro-life legislation” and that he welcomes the concept, although he has not “looked at every single bill.”
DeSantis went on to say that in examining the laws passed in other states and starting from 15 weeks when there is “serious pain and heartbeats and all this stuff,” having protections makes a lot of sense.
Currently, Florida has the most liberal abortion laws of any southern state. Abortion is currently legal in the state through 24 weeks of pregnancy, which is well after the medically accepted threshold for a baby’s viability outside the womb.
The new bill would align Florida with several other pro-life states working on 15-week abortion bans as the nation awaits the possible reversal by the Supreme Court of Roe v. Wade. This 1973 ruling prevents states from banning abortions at all times during pregnancy. The new Florida bill and one passed last week by the Arizona state Senate are similar to the Mississippi law in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The State of Mississippi and several interested parties have expressly requested the Supreme Court to overturn Roe in the Dobbs case. The Dobbs case was argued before the court in December, and a final ruling is expected before the end of the court’s current term in June.