New Abortion Law Signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis

April 18, 2022 Criminal Defense

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed the controversial new abortion bill, which does not come as a surprise to many. DeSantis has pushed his pro-life initiatives for some time now, which can be found here.

After the Senate passed the bill 23-15 early this year, the final step in HB 5 becoming a law was getting signed by Gov. DeSantis. The bill was signed into law by DeSantis in Kissimmee, Florida on April 14th, 2022.

Here we will review the characteristics of the bill, how it could impact the future of women receiving abortion procedures, and what the responses have been.

What Does the Bill Entail?

HB 5 is referred to as the Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act. Under Florida law, HB 5 would prohibit anyone in Florida from getting an abortion past the 15-week mark of pregnancy. The only exceptions to the 15-week mark of gestational age are if there is a medical concern with the mother’s health, or if there is a found fetal abnormality. One key exception not included in HB 5 is rape or incest.

HB 5 is set to amend other sections of the law to reduce the mortality of infants and fetuses. There is a requirement in the bill for the Comprehensive Statewide Tobacco Education and Use Prevention Program to target information on pregnant women, and will require the Department of Health (DOH) to contract with the local Healthy Start coalitions to establish fetal and infant mortality review (FIMR) committees all across the state. These committees will now be required to:

  • Analyze and review rates, trends, causes, and other data related to fetal and infant mortality and morbidity in its geographic area.
  • Develop findings and recommendations for interventions and policy changes to reduce fetal and infant mortality and morbidity rates.
  • Engage with local communities and stakeholders to implement recommended policies and procedures to reduce fetal and infant mortality and morbidity.

To read all about HB 5, find our blog about the bill’s initial passing through the Florida legislature here.

What are the Potential Outcomes of the New Bill?

Florida had previously allowed abortions through the second trimester of pregnancy. Out of all of the southeast states, this was one of the most permissive states for abortion. Women from states with more strict abortion laws were traveling out of state to Florida to receive the procedure. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were a reported 71,914 abortions in Florida in 2019. This makes it the third highest-rated state in the country, or 18.5 per 1,000 women. Now with HB 5 passing, the entire southeast region may feel its impact.

The famous 1973 Roe v. Wade case marked the historical landmark of the Supreme Court legalizing nationwide abortions. However, with more and more states passing new abortion laws, the fate of Roe v. Wade may also hang in the air.

Florida is not the only state currently feeling the impact of new abortion laws. Just last week, the legislation in Kentucky had an override in the governor’s veto of a similar abortion bill. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear tried to veto the bill for its lack of exceptions or exclusions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

“Rape and incest are violent crimes. Victims of these crimes should have options, not be further scarred through a process that exposes them to more harm from their rapists or that treats them like offenders themselves,” Beshear said.

Both ACLU and Planned Parenthood in Kentucky filed complaints and asked the court to block the law immediately. Both organizations argued that the law would, “impose immediate potential for criminal penalties, civil liability, and potential loss of facility and medical licenses due to non-compliance,” adding, “The result is an unconstitutional ban on abortion in Kentucky because Plaintiff (as well as other abortion-providing clinic in Kentucky) must cease providing abortions immediately.”

However, the Kentucky legislation overrode the governor’s veto, and since there was an emergency clause, the bill now goes into effect immediately.

Responses to the Bill’s Passing

If there’s one person that is happy with the bill’s signing, it is Gov. DeSantis himself. In a news release by his staff, DeSantis was quoted as saying, “House Bill 5 protects babies in the womb who have beating hearts, who can move, who can taste, who can see, and who can feel pain. Life is a sacred gift worthy of our protection, and I am proud to sign this great piece of legislation which represents the most significant protections for life in the state’s modern history.”

DeSantis also signed a law earlier this week to support fatherhood. HB 7065 is titled Child Welfare, and highlights educational programs, mentorship programs, and one-on-one support to encourage responsible and involved fatherhood in Florida. This is a continuation of DeSantis’ work towards putting “Florida families first.”

However, there are also negative feelings toward the new law getting signed. Daryl Campbell, Fort Lauderdale State Representative, issued the following statement regarding HB 5 passing:

“Today is a sad day for all Floridians as the 15-week abortion ban, HB 5, was signed into law. This is a massive setback in the fight for women’s reproductive justice and bodily autonomy. HB 5 does not only affect all women in our state, but it further marginalizes women of color. The 15-week abortion ban is an impractical and unjust bill that restricts access to reproductive health care in the state of Florida.

While we face an uphill battle in the fight for women’s choice, I will continue to be an ally in their fight for the basic human right of bodily autonomy. I stand with women across the state in firm opposition of this bad piece of legislation.”

West Palm Beach Rep. Lois Frankel also provided a comment on HB 5:

“Today is a dark day for Florida. The personal decision about whether and when to bring a child into this world should be made by the pregnant individual, not their governor, local representative, or member of Congress. I am deeply concerned about the consequences this extreme abortion ban will have on pregnant people across our state, especially low-income individuals and underserved communities. Abortion care shouldn’t be determined by your income level or zip code. We must continue to fight for reproductive justice in Florida and nationwide.”

Florida’s new abortion law will go into effect as of July 1st, 2022.

Written by Karissa Key

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