Florida Senate Divided On Bill That Shortens Abortion Limit

The Florida Senate is considering a proposal to shorten the time frame for an abortion from 15 weeks to six weeks. A vote is pending on Senate Bill 300 after it cleared the Florida Senate’s Fiscal Policy Committee earlier this week.

If Senate Bill 300 is passed into law, it becomes illegal to terminate pregnancies over six weeks. This would be a significant change to the current law signed in 2022 by Gov. Ron DeSantis, which prohibits abortions after 15 weeks.

The legislation, however, allows exemptions in the cases of incest and forced intercourse or when the pregnancy puts the mother’s life at risk. Pregnancies with a fatal fetal abnormality can also be covered in the exemption allowance if the pregnancy has not gotten to its third trimester.

Exemptions based on forced intercourse or incest would be valid before the pregnancy hits 15 weeks and would be required to have the backing of documentation from the court, police, or medical records. Doctors are tasked with the responsibility of reporting such cases to the central abuse hotline when minors are involved.

In cases where an abortion is key to preserving the mother’s life, the exemption would be granted based on the testimony of two physicians.

According to the legislation, the physicians are to certify the abortion and confirm that the procedure is key to saving the woman’s life or preventing potential “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.”

“Any person who willfully performs, or actively participates in, a termination of pregnancy in violation of the requirements of this section or s. 390.01112 commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 231 775.083, or s. 775.084,” the legislation states.

The legislation also requires that only physicians conduct the termination of pregnancies. Violators who perform an abortion that leads to the death of the pregnant woman will be punished according to the law’s provisions for a second-degree felony.

Proponents of the law believe that it is a way for Florida to promote the belief that all life is important. Democrats, however, are kicking against it on the grounds that it takes away “free will.”

“We’re taking away choice. That’s what this comes down to,” Sen. Geraldine Thompson (D-FL) said.

If SB 300 passes the Senate, it will take a ruling by a Florida Supreme Court judge for it to displace the existing 15-week ban.