At an evangelical church in Kissimmee, Florida, on Thursday, Governor Ron Desantis signed into a law a bill prohibiting abortions 15 or more weeks after conception.
“This will represent the most significant protections for life that have been enacted in this state in a generation,” the Republican governor crowed.
The law carves out exceptions if the mother’s health is endangered or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality, but not for rape, incest, or human trafficking. It will take effect July 1, barring any successful legal challenges. Until then, abortions are legal in Florida up to 24 weeks.
The move is the latest in the GOP’s nationwide push to restrict abortion access at the state level. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt on Tuesday signed a piece of legislation making it a felony to have an abortion, with a punishment of up to a decade in prison and a $100,000 fine. A day later, Kentucky’s Republican-controlled legislature overrode Democratic Governor Andy Beshear’s veto to enact a law effectively suspending abortion access until providers are able to adhere to the new law’s requirements.
Idaho Governor Brad Little last month signed a restrictive bill modeled after Texas’ controversial abortion ban, signed by Governor Greg Abbott last fall, that allows anyone to sue an abortion provider or someone to facilitates the procedure for $10,000. The Supreme Court has passed up opportunities to block the unorthodox enforcement mechanism, paving the way for copycat bills like the one signed by Little, which doubled the potential reward for plaintiffs to $20,000.
The Supreme Court is currently mulling a case that could validate each of these laws. At issue in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi law banning nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Given the court’s firm conservative majority, it’s quite possible that it could substantially weaken or overturn the precedent established by Roe v. Wade nearly 50 years ago. Arguments were held in December, and a ruling is expected in late spring or early summer.
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