MIAMI, Fla. – Even before the Supreme Court decided to end 50 years of federal abortion rights, Florida was one of the states that had already started rolling out restrictions on abortion access before Friday’s ruling happened.
Now reproductive rights advocates are concerned that this will encourage state lawmakers to reconvene to reconsider even more restrictions
“What this decision has done is that it has opened up the flood gates to making it okay to pass more anti-abortion laws, now the fight goes back to the states,” said Jessica Merino, Miami Regional Organizer, Florida Planned Parenthood PAC.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law on April 14 HB 5, the Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act, which prohibits all abortions after 15 weeks of gestation. Previously it was 24 weeks. There are no exceptions in HB 5 for rape, incest, or human trafficking.
“HB 5 prohibits an abortion after an unborn child has reached 15 weeks of gestation. While other states such as California and Colorado are taking extreme measures against the right to life by passing legislation which denies babies in the womb any rights or protections and provides for unrestricted abortions on demand until point of birth, Florida continues to move in a pro-life direction.”
The new law goes into effect on July 1.
“I am a descendent of Cuban immigrants and I was always told that you can come here and you can be free and I can be whatever I want to be,” said Merino, “but now if I am in the wrong state I may not have the ability to be free to decide to do what I want to do with my life. The issue is that people who can’t afford to be able to go across the country to access care, people who can’t afford childcare, transportation, to all these things are the people who are going to be forced to have to give birth now, and that will adversely affect their lives, forever.”
In a statement posted to Twitter, the Republican governor said of the supreme court’s decision: “The prayers of millions have been answered. He added that “Florida will continue to defend its recently-enacted pro-life reforms against state court challenges, will work to expand pro-life protections.”
Nikki Fried, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, a gubernatorial candidate and Florida’s lone statewide elected Democrat said: “This is government forced pregnancy and childbirth,” she said. “So what that is going to do is it is going to take back women who are in their professional careers potentially back decades.
Fried said there are already lawsuits challenging Florida’s law, which is to go into effect on July 1.
“We do have a 15-week abortion ban. There have been at least two lawsuits that have already been challenging that as unconstitutional. We know that this is not going to stop abortions, this is going to stop safe abortions in the state of Florida and across the country.”
Fried said what ultimately happened is that “Democracy did not work today.”
A poll conducted by Florida Atlantic University in May found that 67 percent of respondents, including more than half of the Republicans polled, said abortion should be legal in most or all cases. See the poll here.
Florida Senator Lauren Book (D-District 32) wanted to make it clear that abortions are still legal in Florida.
“What’s important to know is that you can still get legal and safe abortions in the state of Florida today, tomorrow and starting July 1 up until 15 weeks. That’s really important to know. We are not one of those 13 trigger states where abortions stopped today.”