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DeSantis signs Florida bill banning most abortions after 6 weeks

Photo from Gov. Ron DeSantis' Twitter page

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (BP) – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill late Thursday night (April 13) banning most abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy.

Titled the “Heartbeat Protection Act,” but known officially as Senate Bill 300, the legislation prohibits abortions after six weeks of pregnancy by making it a felony for physicians or anyone else who would participate in carrying out an abortion which would violate the bill.

The bill also prohibits state funds to be used to assist women in seeking an abortion from other states, as well as using “telehealth” or mail to receive abortion medication.

DeSantis signed the bill late Thursday after the state House, which is majority Republican, passed the bill by a count of 70 to 40 earlier in the day.

Exceptions to the bill include if the mother’s life is at risk or if the woman was a victim of rape, incest or human trafficking. In those three cases, abortion is legal up to 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The legislation also requires the state’s department of health to oversee the management and delivery of pregnancy support services to those who inquire.

This support applies to pregnant women, women who think they may be pregnant, a woman who has given birth in the last 12 months or adopted a child below age 3 and the parents or legal guardian of such a woman.

Enactment of the bill hinges on a lawsuit in Florida’s Supreme Court over the state’s 15-week abortion ban, passed in 2022. The 15-week ban remains in effect until the state supreme court hears the case regarding it.  

“We are proud to support life and family in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said in a released statement.  

“I applaud the legislature for passing the Heartbeat Protection Act that expands pro-life protections and provides additional resources for young mothers and families.”

Hannah Daniel, policy manager for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), commended the move as a boon for the pro-life cause.

“It is encouraging to see such significant steps towards protecting life being made in Florida,” Daniel said.

“Victories like this spur us on as we press on towards a culture of life where abortion is both illegal and unthinkable. The ERLC will continue striving towards that goal, seeking out every opportunity to serve mothers and save preborn lives.”

Denise Harle, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and director of the ADF Center for Life, attended a special event with various pro-life advocates Thursday night to observe DeSantis signing the bill.

“Every human life is valuable, and every baby deserves to be protected,” Harle said.

“By enacting the Heartbeat Protection Act, Florida is continuing its work to preserve the lives of children and protect the wellbeing of mothers. All states – including Florida – have valid interests in establishing legal protections for unborn children who have detectable heartbeats, as well as a duty to protect the health and safety of women.

“Women deserve real health care, not dangerous and unnecessary procedures. We commend Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Legislature for taking a stand for true women’s health care and protecting innocent life by enacting this legislation.”

Opponents of the bill include Planned Parenthood. Laura Goodhue, executive director for the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, addressed the state House’s approval of the bill in a statement released earlier on Thursday.

“Gov. DeSantis, and many lawmakers in Florida, are hellbent on tyrannical control of our bodies,” Goodhue said.

“This shameful abortion ban is only the tip of the iceberg. Just this past year, they have banned access to life-affirming reproductive and gender-affirming health care for millions of people, limited what children can learn about their bodies in schools, and diverted funding from critical health care programs toward stigmatizing, anti-abortion frauds. These political moves have devastating consequences for the health of our communities, and they directly go against Floridians’ will. Gov. DeSantis’s audition for the presidency doesn’t define us as Floridians. We will continue to fight for our freedom to control our bodies and our futures.”

Despite opposition, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, celebrated the bill as a victory.

“This historic day marks an enormous victory in the battle for human rights,” Dannenfelser said. “No longer will Florida account for 10% of abortions in the nation or be known as an abortion destination.

“More moms who need financial and emotional support will get the help they need during pregnancy and after their child is born. Most of all, tens of thousands of precious boys and girls will live and have the opportunity to pursue their dreams, bless the lives of others, and enhance Florida’s communities. We thank Gov. Ron DeSantis for following the science and the will of the people by signing the Heartbeat Protection Act into law.”