Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Thursday that bans most abortions after six weeks of gestation, sparking controversy and drawing criticism from the White House. In a statement, DeSantis expressed his support for “life and family” in the state of Florida.
The bill prohibits women from having an abortion after six weeks, unless the pregnancy endangers the mother’s health, is the result of rape or incest and does not exceed 15 weeks, or the fetus is not viable.
The White House swiftly condemned the measure as “extreme and dangerous,” stating that it goes against fundamental freedoms and is not aligned with the views of the majority of Americans.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated that the ban would prevent approximately four million Florida women of reproductive age from accessing abortion care after six weeks, often before they even know they are pregnant.
The bill was passed by Florida’s Republican-dominated legislature with 70 votes to 40. Notably, this is the second time within a year that Florida has reduced the legal term for abortion. In April 2022, DeSantis signed a bill that lowered the limit from 24 to 15 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest.
However, the new bill will not take effect immediately as it awaits a ruling by the Florida Supreme Court on an appeal filed by several associations challenging the 15-week limit, citing a violation of a state privacy clause.
DeSantis, who is considered a rising star among the American right wing and is rumored to be considering a run for his party’s presidential nomination in 2024, has faced criticism from Democratic opposition and activists advocating for abortion rights. They argue that the state should not interfere in private decisions and warn of potential negative consequences for women’s health and well-being if access to safe and legal abortions is restricted.
Despite the 15-week limit, Florida remains one of the most permissive states for abortion in the southeastern United States, with many women from neighboring states traveling there to terminate pregnancies.
However, the new bill could change that, representing a victory for anti-abortion activists. This comes just hours after the United States experienced a restriction in access to mifepristone, a drug used for pregnancy termination, following a court decision.