Gov. DeSantis signs bill banning abortion after 6 weeks in Florida

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One of the strictest abortion bills in the U.S. is now law in Florida: Women can no longer get an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, a time when most are just finding out they’re pregnant.

On Thursday night, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Heartbeat Protection Act. The bill still has to go through the Florida Supreme Court, where the 15-week ban is still under review. The court will have 30 days to make this decision.

The Florida House passed the bill with a 70-to-40 vote earlier on Thursday. The bill has exceptions in cases of rape, incest, human trafficking and where the mother’s life is at risk. It also includes more than $20 million to fund clinics and organizations that provide counseling and education for pregnant women and families, as well as providing parenting classes and essentials like diapers and car seats.

Doctors who violate the new law can be charged with a third-degree felony.

A woman who wishes to use one of the exceptions in the law would have to prove rape or incest with documentation, such as a restraining order or police report. They won’t take one’s word for it. Some women believe this takes things too far, while others feel it doesn’t go far enough.

The six-week abortion ban comes as a stab in the heart to people like Stephanie Fraim, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.

“Angry, furious, disgusted and deeply, deeply, deeply sad for the people of Florida,” Fraim said. “We are providing abortion care right now up to 15 weeks because that’s the current law… we’re challenging that law in courts and hoping that our state Supreme Court will respect our right to privacy and overturn the 15-week ban, which would then kick out the six-week ban as well.”

Yvette Benarroch, vice chair of the Collier County GOP, sees the ban as a benefit.

“I’m really excited, happy… we’re able to save so many babies now,” Benarroch said. “Children are a blessing.”

Benarroch’s story stems from an abortion she had as a teenager and still regrets.

“I get emotional when I talk about it because it really scars you for life, and it’s a burden that I don’t wish anybody has to carry,” Benarroch said.

Bennaroch says she wants to prevent anyone from feeling the same pain she does. She says women who feel they need to get an abortion will just have to go outside of state lines.

“I wouldn’t want anybody to go through that, there’s options that they can choose,” Benarroch said. “But, in the end, if they choose to do that, then then they would need to travel and do what is needed.”

The Florida House of Representatives extensively debated this ban before it was passed.

“We say that when a child has a heartbeat, that is when we are going to start saying that we’ve got to give some value to that life and not allow an abortion,” said Republican Rep. and House Speaker Paul Renner.

“Most women don’t know that they are pregnant at six weeks; let’s be clear about the silent part,” said Democratic Rep. and House Minority leader Fentrice Driskell. “You just don’t want women to have choice.”

“Either you value life, or we don’t,” said Republican Rep. Chase Tramont of Port Orange. “I mean, it really is that simple. We value life, or we don’t.”

This bill’s provisions could drastically limit the number of abortions performed in Florida.

“Enough is enough,” Driskell said. “It is time that we listen to women, that we trust women, that we trust families and allow them to make these most intimate decisions of home and heart, without Tallahassee politicians looking over their shoulders.”

This ban comes as DeSantis is widely expected to launch a 2024 presidential run.

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