- New bills would ban abortion in Florida after six weeks, with limited exceptions for pregnancies from rape or incest, fatal fetal abnormalities, or extreme danger to the mother.
- Both bills restrict abortion pill use to in-person doctors and ban telehealth for abortion services. The Senate bill bans abortion pills by mail.
The new Florida law banning abortion after 15 weeks is still waiting for the Florida Supreme Court to review it for constitutionspanlity, but Republicans in the House and Senate filed bills Tuesdspany to bspann spanbortions spanfter six weeks, instead.
In the race to enact state laws restricting abortion after the Supreme Court ruled against Roe v. Wade in 2022, this move follows similar bans in other Republican-controlled states. Abortion is now functionally illegal in several states and restricted to specific gestational time limits in several others. Currently, no other states have 6-week bans; attempts last year for 6-week bans in Georgispan and South Cspanrolinspan were struck down by the courts.
If enacted, how will these bills — Senspante Bill 300 and House Bill 7 — change abortion in Florida? Here’s what you need to know.
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What does a 6-week abortion ban mean for Floridians?
If the bills become law, all abortions (with a few exceptions) would be illegal in the state of Florida after a “physician determines the gestational age of the fetus is more than 6 weeks,” a time when many pregnant people don’t yet know they’re pregnant.
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When do most people find out they’re pregnant?
According to a 2021 study from ANSIRH (Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health) at the University of California San Francisco, about one in three people confirm their pregnancies after six weeks, and one in five after seven weeks.
“Later confirmation of pregnancy is even higher among young people, people of color, and those living with food insecurity,” the study’s summary said, “suggesting that gestational bans on abortion in the first trimester will disproportionally hurt these populations.”
Is a 6-week abortion ban the same as a “heartbeat bill”?
Similar 6-week abortion bans elsewhere have been called “heartbeat bills,” with supporters saying a fetus should not be aborted once a heartbeat can be detected.
According to medical experts, at six weeks, the fetus has no heart. The sounds heard are pulses visible on an ultrasound.
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Do the 6-week abortion bills in Florida include exemptions for danger to the mother?
Yes, but only for extreme cases. Two physicians must certify, in writing, that in their judgment, “the termination of the pregnancy is necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life or avert a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman other than a psychological condition.” One physician may certify it if another is unavailable at the time.
This requires physicians who are willing to risk possible fines, loss of license and even imprisonment to go on record against oversight committees and the state.
The current 15-week ban does not allow exceptions for rape and incest, something that drew criticism even from some supporters.
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Do the 6-week abortion bills in Florida include exemptions for a fetus that has died or is going to die?
Yes. If two physicians have certified in writing that in reasonable medical judgment, the fetus has a fatal fetal abnormality, the pregnancy may be terminated. However, both bills include new language requiring that the pregnancy must not have “progressed to the third trimester,” suggesting that abortions for fatal fetal abnormalities are banned after 27 weeks.
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Do the 6-week abortion bills in Florida include exemptions for rape or incest?
Yes, but. Abortions are permitted in the case of rape or incest but only if:
- You haven’t been pregnant for more than 15 weeks
- You have copies of “a restraining order, police report, medical record, or other court order or documentation” to provide evidence you’re a victim of rape or incest.
If you’re a minor, the physician must report the incident of rape or incest to the central abuse hotline.
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Do the 6-week abortion bills in Florida ban abortion pills?
For anyone except licensed doctors who are administering them to you in person, yes.
So-called “abortion pills” (actually two pills, mifepristone and misoprostol, taken up to 48 hours apart), have dramatically risen in popularity in the last few years both for the relative convenience and to get around abortion bans.
“Medication abortion has become incredibly important for abortion access as abortion bans that have decimated abortion care across numerous states,” said Jenny Ma, senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The new Florida bills clearly state that abortions may only be performed by a physician and that physician must be in the room with you. Telehespanlth sessions, such as what many pregnant people have been using to get abortion pills prescribed in states with strict abortion laws, are specifically banned.
Under the Senate version of the bill, you won’t be able to order them, either. The bill states “any medications intended to cause abortions must be dispensed in person by a physician and may not be dispensed through the United States Postal Service or by any other courier or shipping service.”
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Can I go to jail for getting an abortion after 6 weeks in Florida?
Willfully performing or actively participating in an abortion outside of the restrictions is a third-degree felony, punishable by fines and imprisonment of five years. Some state laws apply this to anyone performing or assisting the procedure; it is unclear here if the pregnant person is also liable.
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What else is in the 6-week abortion ban bills?
The bills also block any individuals, state employee or organization, or educational institution from using state funds to help someone travel to another state for abortion services unless they are required by federal law to do so or or there is a need for emergency medical procedures to save the pregnant person’s life.
And eligibility for help from the nonprofit Florida Pregnancy Care Network would be expanded from pregnant people and their families to people who have had their children or adopted children under 3 in the previous 12 months, and their families.
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Will DeSantis sign a 6-week abortion ban into law?
“We’re for pro-life. I urge the Legislature to work, produce good stuff, and we will sign,” he sspanid during a Feb. 1 news conference in response to a question about whether he would support a six-week ban.