Ron DeSantis quietly signs 6-week abortion ban into Florida law

Click to play video: 'Florida signs 6-week abortion ban into law'
Florida signs 6-week abortion ban into law
WATCH: Florida signs 6-week abortion ban into law – Apr 14, 2023

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed legislation that would ban most abortions after six weeks in the state of Florida.

The ban includes exemptions for cases of rape, human trafficking and incest, in those instances allowing an abortion up to 15 weeks of pregnancy. Under the legislation, a pregnant person would have to provide a restraining order, police report, medical record or other evidence to qualify.

Existing 15-week exemptions surrounding the life and health of the mother were not changed.

The governor’s office confirmed the legislation — called the Heartbeat Protection Act — had been signed in a statement released Thursday night.

DeSantis had previously vowed to pass the controversial legislation through Florida’s Republican-dominated legislature, despite the six-week abortion ban being unpopular in public polling of both Republican and Democratic party supporters.

Story continues below advertisement

The six-week ban can only be enacted in Florida if the state’s current 15-week ban is upheld in Florida’s Supreme Court. DeSantis signed the legislation for the 15-week abortion ban last year, though the state’s Supreme Court has not yet made a ruling on the proposal. Planned Parenthood, among other pro-choice groups, filed a lawsuit to overturn the legislation.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

Opponents of the new legislation have argued that many women are not even aware they are pregnant by the six-week benchmark.

“We are proud to support life and family in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said in the press release. “I applaud the Legislature for passing the Heartbeat Protection Act that expands pro-life protections and provides additional resources for young mothers and families.”

Story continues below advertisement

Democrats and pro-choice groups have criticized Florida’s proposal as extreme.

“This ban would prevent four million Florida women of reproductive age from accessing abortion care after six weeks — before many women even know they’re pregnant,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement issued after Thursday’s vote. “This ban would also impact the nearly 15 million women of reproductive age who live in abortion-banning states throughout the South, many of whom have previously relied on travel to Florida as an option to access care.”

Under the new legislation, drugs used in medication-induced abortions — which make up the majority of those provided nationally — could be dispensed only in person or by a physician under the proposed Florida law.

Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Florida has seen an influx of visitors coming from out of the state to receive an abortion, as per data from Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration. Before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled there was no constitutional right to an abortion, Florida performed 3,988 out-of-state abortions in 2020. In 2022, that number grew to 6,708.

Story continues below advertisement

Signing the ban is seen as a win for DeSantis and may earn him favour among Republican primary voters as he prepares a much-anticipated bid for presidential candidacy. If he runs, DeSantis is expected to announce his bid for the GOP nomination in May or June.

The bill passed on a 70-40 vote. Only two of the 28 Republicans in the Florida Senate voted against the six-week abortion ban.

— With files from The Associated Press

Sponsored content