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Republican lawmakers introduce near-total abortion ban at the start of legislative session

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Norine Dworkin

Editor in Chief

Tuesday, March 7, 2023


State-wide polling consistently shows that majorities of Floridians oppose abortion bans and support maintaining abortion access in all or most cases.

On the first day of Florida’s legislative session, Republican lawmakers proposed legislation that would further restrict abortion in the state.

Titled Pregnancy and Parenting Support, the proposed legislation — SB 300 in the Senate and HB 7 in the House — would ban abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy when abortion rights advocates say women may not even realize they are pregnant.

The state last year passed a law that made abortion legal up to the 15th week of pregnancy, reduced from 24 weeks. Abortion providers have tried to stop it and appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, which will hear arguments against the law.

The legislation provides exceptions for rape and incest as long as the victim can “provide a copy of a restraining order, police report, medical record, or other court order or documentation” showing evidence of such crimes. For minors, physicians must report the incident of rape or incest to the central abuse hotline,” as required by law.

Another exception allows for medical emergencies, provided two physicians “certify in writing that, in reasonable medical judgment, the termination of the pregnancy is necessary to save the pregnant woman's life or avert a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman other than a psychological condition.”

The proposed legislation also mandates that only physicians can perform abortions — including medication abortions, which could make getting abortion pill prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies, even those with in-store clinics, more difficult.

Introduced by Republican Reps. Spencer Roach of North Fort Myers and Jenna Persons-Mulicka of Fort Myers, HB 7 bans the use of state funds for travel out of state to seek abortion. HB 7 would also specifically ban the use of telehealth to obtain abortion pills. In 2015, Florida enacted a law to prevent physicians in the state from prescribing abortion pills without an in-person visit 24 hours prior, but, as the Tampa Bay Times noted, it was unclear how that would be enforced with out-of-state providers.

But that gap may be addressed by SB 300, introduced by Rep. Erin Grall, a Lake Placid Republican. It prohibits shipping abortion pills through the U.S. Postal Service or “any other courier or shipping service.” Organizations like Aid Access, based in Austria, claims that it has sent abortion pills to more than 30,000 Americans across the country.

Republicans have supermajorities in both the House and Senate, and Gov. Ron DeSantis has indicated that he favored further restricting abortion. This is despite state-wide polling consistently showing that  majorities of Floridians support abortion and oppose bans

Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said in a statement Monday that the legislation has “nothing to do with what is best for Floridians and everything to do with Ron DeSantis’ ambition to be president and what he thinks Republican primary voters want.”

She said if lawmakers were serious about reducing abortions, then they would provide “comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education, free birth control and emergency contraception” as well as expand Medicaid. “Instead, the same politicians seeking to ban abortion also oppose measures that would reduce the need for abortion.”

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