The Florida state Senate has passed a bill banning abortion after six weeks, a move supported by Gov. Ron DeSantis who is likely to sign it after it passes in the House.
The Heartbeat Protection Act provides exceptions if the woman is a victim of rape, incest, and human trafficking up to 15 weeks. It would also require physicians performing an abortion under this exception to report known or suspected incidents of rape, incest, or human trafficking to law enforcement.
Any medications intended for use in a medical abortion will be required to be dispensed in person by a physician under the new law. The bill would also bar individuals, government agencies, and public education institutions from using state funds to help someone travel out-of-state to have an abortion performed.
“Bodily autonomy should not give a person the permission to kill an innocent human being,” said state Sen. Erin Grall, who sponsored the bill. “We live in a time where the consequences of our actions are an afterthought and convenience has been substitution for responsibility, and this is unacceptable when it comes to the protection of the most vulnerable.”
The new legislation, which still needs to pass the House, is being described by pro-abortion activists as a near-total abortion ban, given that six weeks is usually the first time a baby’s heartbeat can be detected in the womb.
After the bill’s passage in the state senate, 11 people were arrested in protests outside of city hall in Tallahassee, including Florida Democrats chair Nikki Fried and state Senate Minority Leader Lauren Brook (D), according to the Washington Post.
Protestors had originally wanted to stay overnight, but police denied their request days before the vote, according to a statement from the Tallahassee Police Department (TPD).
TPD officials say they provided multiple warnings throughout the day to protestors, reminding them that anyone refusing to leave the premises at sundown would be subject to arrest.
“This bill is a near-total ban on abortion in Florida. It directly violates our right to bodily autonomy and will virtually eliminate legal abortion care in Florida,” Kara Gross, ACLU of Florida’s legislative director and senior policy counsel, said in a news release. “In a state that prides itself on being free, this is an unprecedented, unconstitutional, and unacceptable level of government overreach and intrusion into our private lives.”
The new bill will only take effect if Florida’s current 15-week ban is upheld in an ongoing legal battle currently before the state’s Supreme Court, the Associated Press reported.