On 13 April, in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis approved and signed the Heartbeat Protection Act (SB 300) saying: “We are proud to support life and family in the state of Florida.”
This legislation effectively bans most abortions after six weeks gestational age.
However, it will not come into effect until after the decision by the Florida supreme court, which is weighing a challenge to the state’s current 15-week limit. The Heartbeat Protection Act would only come into effect if the 15-week legislation is upheld and so until then, abortion remains legal up to 15 weeks in Florida.
If the supreme court gives its approval, which is the expected outcome, abortion will not be permitted if the gestational age is more than six weeks, measured from the first day of the woman’s last period, about four weeks after conception.
There are exceptions to save the life of the pregnant woman in a medical emergency and to avoid any serious risk of imminent substantial and irreversible physical impairment to her health, also exceptions for rape or incest up to the 15th week of pregnancy. Abortion will still be permitted in cases of fatal fetal abnormality.
It should be noted that these medical exceptions will need to be certified by two doctors and the rape/incest exception will need to be supported by relevant official documentation such as a police report.
The legislation includes $25 million to be used for pregnancy care services.
In 2022, there were 82,000 abortions in Florida, seven thousand of these for women travelling from other states with abortion restrictions, a factor that has been on the increase since the Supreme Court decision in June 2022.
- Heartbeat Protection Act has been signed in Florida
- This will come into effect if/when the Florida supreme court decides in favour of the current 15-week limit
- The new legislation bans abortion after six weeks gestational age
- There are exceptions for life of pregnant woman, rape, and incest.
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