The White House is speaking out against a Florida Senate bill that bans abortions after 15-weeks. President Biden called it a dangerous bill that will severely restrict access to reproductive health care.
The bill does not contain exceptions for rape or incest, and Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign that bill into law. And if the bill is signed into law, there would only be three ways to get an abortion in Florida after 15 weeks. One of those is if two doctors put in writing that the abortion is necessary to save the woman’s life or keep her from a serious and irreversible physical impairment. Or those two doctors would have to agree that the fetus has a fatal fetal abnormality.
Now, some in Florida are celebrating while others are devastated at the passage of this bill.
It isn’t uncommon to see demonstrators outside of Planned Parenthood in south Fort Myers. They hope to stop as many abortions as possible. One protestor said she considers the Florida Senate bill that bans abortions after 15 weeks as a small victory now that it has passed.
Hildy Boespflug lives in Ave Maria. “15 weeks, you know a lot of people don’t even know that they’re pregnant at 15 weeks, so that will really give a chance for that little baby that was choosing life,” said Boespflug.
BC Cloutier is the president of Action for Life in Naples. “Well, we’re thrilled,” Cloutier said. “we hope that it will save some babies.”
“There are many, many alternatives to abortion, and none of them will disrupt the life of the mother or her economic situation if she seeks out that assistance,” said Cloutier.
Pro-choice advocates, on the other hand, don’t think the bill is reasonable at all. Kate Danehy-Samitz is the founder and vice president of women’s Voice SW Florida. “Every natural person has the right to be left alone and free from government intrusion into their personal life, and what we’re seeing is that right be trampled on,” said Danehy-Samitz.
Dr. Rahcel Rapkin is a doctor who works with Planned Parenthood in Tampa. “I think it’s going to have some incredibly detrimental impacts on my patients,” said Dr. Rapkin.
Rapkin says there are countless reasons women seek abortions after 15 weeks. She’s worried for all of them, particularly for those who want one for medical reasons.
“A huge portion of the patients I take care of are ending their pregnancies, which are often very highly desired, but diagnosed with fetal abnormalities that are 18 to 20-week anatomy ultrasound,” said Dr. Rapkin. “And then to be told that we can’t even take care of them in their own state. It’s just heartbreaking.”
There are a few medical exceptions in the bill, but according to Dr. Rapkin, the language in the bill is confusing.
“Unfortunately, for us physicians, that’s not a medical term. So we don’t even really know what that means and to have two physicians sign off that something is a fatal fetal abnormality,” said Dr. Rapkin said.
A similar 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi is now under review with the Supreme Court. That could not only decide the fate of Roe v. wade but also set the tone for other legal fights regarding abortion across the country, including here in Florida.
“As I understand it, this statute will pass legal muster,” Cloutier said.
“I would hope that the Supreme Court would uphold, you know, our constitutional right to bodily autonomy,” Danehy-Smitz said.
When the bill hits Governor DeSantis’ desk, he has indicated that he will sign it. With Denatis’ signature, the bill would become law on Jul. 1, pending and court fight. The bill says that any doctor who violates the 15-week provision could go to jail for five years.