Florida Republicans introduced a bill banning abortion after six weeks on Tuesday during the opening of the 2023 legislative session.
Governor Ron DeSantis holds a Republican supermajority in the state legislature, and he is expected to face little opposition to attempts to push through his political priorities. DeSantis, who is reportedly considering a 2024 presidential run, has previously expressed support for a six-week abortion ban and made clear that he is clamping down on the rights of women and gender minorities in his state.
House Bill 7 prohibits abortion after six weeks, down from 15 weeks and before many people even know they are pregnant. It makes exceptions for rape, incest, fetal abnormalities, or to save the life of the pregnant person. However, the person “must provide a copy of a restraining order, police report, medical record, or other court order or documentation proving” they were the victim of rape or incest.
The measure requires that all abortions, whether through surgery or through medication, must be conducted in person. Doctors would not be allowed to dispense abortion pills via telemedicine, cutting off a crucial lifeline for marginalized people to access safe abortions.
Individuals, government agencies, and public education institutions would be banned from using state funds to help someone travel out of state for an abortion, unless it is medically necessary to save the pregnant person’s life, or unless those groups are already legally required to use federal funds for such aid.
The bill would also lower the amount of money that the state Department of Health is required to spend on pregnancy and parental support services to 85 percent, down from 90 percent. These services include pregnancy testing, counseling, prenatal classes, adoption education, and material aid such as diapers and formula. Abortion rights advocates regularly point out that states with some of the toughest abortion laws often fail to set up social welfare systems to support children after they are born.
The legislation is sure to have a ripple effect across the rest of the South, as many of Florida’s neighboring states outlaw abortion and criminalize those who seek the procedure, including South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi.
DeSantis has declared war on “woke” culture, and that apparently includes restricting the rights of women and gender minorities throughout Florida. He has already come under fire for a plan from the governing body for the state university school system to collect data on students who seek gender-affirming care on their college campuses.