TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA/AP) — Abortions after 15 weeks would be banned in Florida under a bill that has been passed in the GOP-controlled Senate.The proposal now heads to Gov. DeSantis’ desk for his final signature.
House Bill 5 passed the state Senate late Thursday night by a vote of 23-15 along party lines with all Republicans voting in favor. The Florida House passed HB 5 last week.
The debate session was filled with emotional testimony from multiple senators. Fla. Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, sponsor of bill’s companion in the senate, referenced her children and grandchild in the crowd in her closing statements.
Republicans across the country have moved to tighten access to the procedure after the U.S. Supreme Court signaled it would uphold Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban and potentially overturn Roe v. Wade. A decision, in that case, is expected later this year.
The Florida bill contains exceptions if the abortion is necessary to save a mother’s life, prevent serious injury to the mother or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. The state currently allows abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Sen. Lauren Book, a sexual abuse survivor who tried to amend the bill to allow exemptions for rape, incest or human trafficking, revealed publicly for the first time Wednesday an additional incident in her life. On the Senate floor, as she pleaded with lawmakers to add the exceptions, Book spoke of how she was drugged and raped by multiple men when she was a young teenager.
“It’s not OK to force someone who’s been sexually assaulted and impregnated to carry that pregnancy to term if they don’t want too, it’s just not,” Book, a Democrat, said through tears on the Senate floor. “And if a woman or a girl needs more than 15 weeks to decide, we should be able to give that to her.”
Republicans have said the bill is reasonable and gives women enough time to consider whether to get an abortion.
“This bill does not ban abortion. You have the opportunity, if you so choose, to have an abortion, to have that choice. I think there is plenty of room within this bill to be able to act appropriately, and I don’t think it’s necessary to have the exceptions for rape and incest,” Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Republican, said this week.
Florida fubernatorial candidate and current Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried released a statement following the announcement.
“Today is a dark day for women in Florida. This extreme abortion ban is not only cruel, immoral, and inhumane – it violates both the Florida and the U.S. constitutions. It’s an insult to the dignity of women and our ability to make decisions about our own lives. It will punish women and girls who have endured traumas that the privileged white men who pushed this bill could never even imagine, and every single member who voted for it should be ashamed.”
The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis, where he is expected to sign it into law.