Proposal to ban abortions at six weeks advances in Florida

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A proposal that would ban abortions at six weeks is moving forward in Florida, where Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has indicated his support for the restrictions as he prepares a possible presidential run.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A proposal to ban abortions at six weeks in Florida received overwhelming approval from a state House committee Thursday with Democrats acknowledging there was nothing they could do to stop it from finally becoming law.

The proposal is moving forward, while the ban on 15-week abortions, signed into law by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis last year, still faces a legal challenge. The new proposal would only enter into force if the current law is maintained and would make it a crime to perform an abortion after six weeks of gestational age.

“This is a bill that recognizes the importance and value of the lives of unborn and innocent human beings,” Republican Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka said of her proposal. “The bill before you is not solely a reflection of my personal beliefs, but the result of listening in an attempt to build consensus around life-supportive policy.”

The move could give DeSantis, who is widely expected to run for president, additional fodder to appeal to conservative voters. The Governor has indicated that he will support the proposed ban.

There would be an exception to save the life of the woman and exceptions in the case of pregnancy caused by rape or incest up to 15 weeks of pregnancy. In these cases, the woman would have to provide documentation such as medical history, restraining order or police report.

Opponents said that when a woman finds out she is pregnant, it is either too late to have an abortion or there is too little time to arrange one, especially for victims of rape and incest. They said trying to obtain an abortion will be even more difficult for women in rural areas with limited medical care.

“This bill is too restrictive. The amount of paperwork a woman has to go through to prove that she has been raped re-traumatizes her,” said Democratic Rep. Robin Bartleman, adding that most rapes go unreported.

But he also acknowledged that the Republicans will get what they want.

“You are going to have the votes, you have a great majority. Basically, there will be a total ban on abortion in the state of Florida,” she said. “I can do math.”

The House bill has one more committee stop before being heard by the full house. A similar Senate bill has been assigned to two committees and will be heard for the first time next week. House and Senate leaders have expressed support for the legislation.

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