Florida’s Proposed 6-Week Abortion Ban Could Threaten Access for Entire South

A Republican lawmaker in Florida has launched a invoice that may ban abortion previous six weeks of being pregnant — laws that, if handed, would successfully eradicate most abortion entry within the South.

Republicans maintain supermajorities in each the state’s Senate and Home of Delegates, and Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is visiting early primary states prematurely of an anticipated presidential run, has vowed to signal any “nice life laws.” It’s a dedication he reiterated when requested a couple of six-week ban, particularly.

The six-week ban, launched by Republican state Sen. Erin Grall on Tuesday, consists of exceptions for rape or incest as much as 15 weeks of being pregnant. To qualify, an individual should have a duplicate of a restraining order, police report, medical report, or different court docket order or documentation proving the being pregnant was a results of rape or incest. The laws would additionally bar using state funds to assist a pregnant particular person depart the state to acquire an abortion. The invoice was launched on the primary day of Florida’s legislative session.

Abortion is already outlawed in Florida for anybody previous 15 weeks of being pregnant — a measure additionally launched by Grall — with no exceptions for rape or incest. (There’s a nominal exception to save lots of the pregnant particular person’s life, although medical doctors have mentioned it’s imprecise and troublesome at greatest to make the most of. One other exception exists if the fetus has a deadly anomaly, although it brings related challenges.) It’s a restriction that medical suppliers within the state observe just isn’t based mostly on any medical reasoning. Although most abortions happen earlier than 15 weeks, that regulation has nonetheless meaningfully curbed entry, clinicians within the state say. Prior to the ban taking impact this previous July, most Floridians who sought abortions previous that time couldn’t afford to come back to a clinic earlier, had been minors who in some instances didn’t understand they had been pregnant, and individuals who found problems late in being pregnant — even when they weren’t assured to be deadly.

A six-week ban may have a much more important affect, radiating far past Florida. Folks usually do not know they’re pregnant at six weeks. The primary signal of being pregnant is commonly a missed menstrual interval, which a pregnant particular person usually is not going to discover till they’re round 4 weeks, on the earliest.

Laura Goodhue, government director of the Florida Alliance of Deliberate Parenthood Associates, criticized the invoice, saying it will damage individuals who get pregnant and their youngsters, particularly in Black and Latinx communities.

The invoice “means many pregnant individuals won’t ever have the choice to have an abortion,” Goodhue mentioned in a press release. “Furthermore, between the 24-hour obligatory delay and two appointment necessities, even sufferers who understand they’re pregnant earlier than six weeks could also be unable to entry abortion care earlier than they run out of time.”

Within the months since Roe v. Wade was overturned, the Sunshine State has emerged as a haven for individuals within the South searching for abortion. The process is outlawed nearly fully in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas and banned after six weeks in Georgia. That limits abortion entry within the South to Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina, the place a six-week ban was struck down by the state Supreme Court docket final yr.

Not one of the three suppliers in South Carolina performs abortion previous 14 weeks. A couple of dozen abortion clinics function in North Carolina, the place near 30,000 abortions passed off in 2020. In Florida, the nation’s third-largest state, greater than 60 clinics present abortions.

Already, Florida’s massive community of clinics has seen a surge in sufferers. Final yr alone, 6,708 people from out of state bought an abortion in Florida, about 8 p.c of the 82,192 abortions completed there. That represents a 37.7 p.c improve in out-of-state abortions from 2021. Abortion clinics, significantly in northern Florida, which is nearer to the Georgia border, have said they’re seeing twice as many sufferers as earlier than, with a big share coming from out of state.

If a six-week ban passes in Florida, it would seemingly finish the state’s standing as a refuge, creating too brief a timeframe for individuals from out of state — who, upon studying they’re pregnant, usually have to discover a clinic, make an appointment, and coordinate cash and logistics for journey, lodging and doubtlessly baby care. These efforts can take weeks, as seen final yr when Texas and Oklahoma each enforced six-week abortion bans even previous to Roe’s overturn.

That will put extra strain on clinics within the Carolinas, but it surely’s unclear how lengthy abortion will keep authorized there. In South Carolina, which is ruled by a Republican trifecta, lawmakers are working to go a brand new ban on the process. A change in makeup of the state’s Supreme Court docket — the lack of its sole girl justice, who had voted to strike down the state’s six-week ban — may improve the chances of an abortion prohibition being upheld.

In North Carolina, the state’s Democratic governor has indicated he would veto an abortion ban. However statehouse Republicans are one vote shy of a veto-proof majority, and one Democratic legislator has prompt openness to voting for some type of abortion ban. Lawmakers there are currently weighing what kind of restrictions to push for this yr and are additionally contemplating a six-week ban.

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