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Florida’s 15-Week Abortion Ban Can Go Into Effect On July 1, Judge Rules

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters before signing a 15-week abortion ban into law on April 14 in Kissimmee. (Photo: Associated Press)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters before signing a 15-week abortion ban into law on April 14 in Kissimmee. (Photo: Associated Press)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters before signing a 15-week abortion ban into law on April 14 in Kissimmee. (Photo: Associated Press)

Florida’s 15-week abortion ban will go into effect Friday after astate circuit court judge ruled against a temporary injunction filed by several abortion rights organizations. 

The 15-week abortion restriction has no exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape, incest or human trafficking. It allows an exception only if the mother is at risk of serious injury or death or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. The law makes it a crime to provide an abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy and threatens physicians with a five-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine. 

Florida health care providers filed the lawsuit on June 1, arguing that the law goes against Florida’s state constitution. Several organizations that support abortion rights, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Florida, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood, filed the suit. 

The ban on its own will have devastating consequences for abortion care in the Southeast, but it will likely be even worse given the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturnRoe v. Wade.

“The ruling of the Supreme Court unjustly takes a person’s ability to make personal medical decisions that affect their reproductive health, their life and future and gives it to state politicians who don’t know them,” Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) told HuffPost. 

“The 15-week ban on abortion by the Republican Legislature and Governor is extreme, and sadly it’s just the beginning of the end of legal abortion in Florida as the Governor has vowed to go further,” she added. “What does this mean for a 14-year-old raped by her father who does not know she’s pregnant until 15 weeks have passed? It means an innocent child will have a forced pregnancy.”

The ban was fast-tracked in the Florida Legislature after state Sen. Kelli Stargel and state Rep. Erin Grall, both Republicans, proposed the companion measures S.B. 146 and H.B. 5 in January. The bills were quietly tucked inside legislation to revise the state’s Tobacco Education and Use Prevention program.

“We are here today to protect life. We are here today to defend those who can’t defend themselves,” Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said during the bill signing in April. 

Prior to the 15-week ban, Florida allowed abortions through the first trimester or up to 24 weeks. The restriction was modeled after a 2018 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi, which was at the center of the Supreme Court case that was the impetus behind the fall of Roe on Friday.  

A 15-week abortion ban will have devastating consequences for people seeking abortion care in the Southeast. People who need abortions after the 15-week point are usually the most vulnerable or marginalized. 

“I have found that women and girls who need abortions after 15 weeks are those that tend to have the most challenging and compelling life circumstances. They are women who are struggling economically, that may be in poverty or near poverty,” Dr. Shelly Tien, a gynecologist for Planned Parenthood in Florida, said during a Monday hearing on the injunction. 

With the federal fall of Roe and Florida’s 15-week abortion going into effect, access to reproductive health care in the South is “almost obliterated,” said Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. 

And the state’s Republican-majority legislature will likely look to restrict abortion even further now that federal protections for abortion care have disappeared. 

“Every year the Florida Legislature and the Ron DeSantis administration have proposed abortion restrictions, restrictions on our reproductive freedoms. I have no doubt that they will try again next spring, which is why we have to be vigilant to protect our freedom,” Goodhue said. “I have no doubt they will try, but it will go up against the will of the people.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.