Update: Florida on Thursday joined a number of states putting laws in place to severely restrict abortions. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a measure that bans abortions in almost all cases once the fetus reaches 15 weeks, reports ABC Action News. "It's a statement of our values that every life is important," said DeSantis. Our original story from March 5 follows:
In a 23-15 vote late Thursday, Florida's state Senate passed legislation banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a bill that Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he'll sign. The AP reports that the only exceptions to the ban are if the fetus has a fatal abormality or if an abortion is need to save the mother's life or keep her from serious injury. There are no exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or human trafficking. The state's current law allows for abortion up until the 24th week of pregnancy. Republicans have said that the 15-week window allows all girls and women time to make a decision on abortion, even in cases not covered under the new legislation's exceptions, but the Hill notes that lawmakers were still emotional surrounding Thursday's vote.
"The fact that we will not make an exception for incest and rape is unconscionable to me," state Sen. Randolph Bracy said. The New York Times notes the legislation passage is "part of a sweeping push by Republicans to put the state at the forefront of the nation's culture wars," with other bills near passage that include prohibiting teaching about sexual identity or gender identity in elementary schools (detractors have deemed it the "Don't Say Gay" bill) and barring teaching on topics that make students feel discomfort or guilt over their race, sex, or national origin—the so-called Stop WOKE Act.
President Biden weighed in the morning after the abortion legislation passed in Florida's Senate, calling it a "dangerous bill that will severely restrict women's access to reproductive health care." He added: "My Administration will not stand for the continued erosion of women's constitutional rights." Critics of the new legislation—modeled after Mississippi's, which is set to be ruled on by the Supreme Court— shouldn't expect reprieve in the form of a veto from DeSantis. "I think the protections are warranted, and I think we'll be able to sign that in short order," he said Friday of the bill headed toward his desk, adding that he considers 15 weeks of pregnancy to be "late term," per the Tampa Bay Times. (Read more abortion stories.)