A bill has been introduced in the Florida legislature to ban abortions after six weeks (among other measures harmful to abortion seekers and physicians), a move that abortion rights advocates in the South have been dreading since the death of Roe.
The bill, which identifies itself in part as “an act relating to pregnancy and parenting support,” also “prohibits the use of state funds for a person to travel to another state to receive services intended to support an abortion,” as well as limiting the distribution of medication for abortions to in-person physician visits. Physicians who provide abortions after six weeks, as well as “any person who...actively participates in a termination of pregnancy” after that point, commit a felony. This opens the door, too, for pregnant people who seek abortions to be prosecuted.
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Florida is a critical access point for abortion seekers in the Southeast, given that it borders states that have more burdensome restrictions. Indeed, much of the South, except for North Carolina and South Carolina, either ban abortion after six weeks or outright. In 2021, after Texas’ six-week ban took effect, Robin Marty, director of operations at West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa, and I discussed what would happen next in the Southeast as states got the message that it was perfectly fine to ignore the (then-constitutional) right to abortion and ban the procedure after six weeks. “Maybe Florida will stay intact, I really hope so, because Florida is all we’ve got,” she said.
The bill is likely to pass, given the Republican supermajorities in both the state Senate and House of Representatives. And Gov. Ron DeSantis, a known abortion foe, has already said he would sign such a ban.