Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill banning abortion after 15 weeks

2J1YBE8 SHADY HILLS, Florida, USA. 28th Mar, 2022. Gov. Ron DeSantis prepares to sign the Parental Rights in Education bill during a news conference on Monday, March 28, 2022, at Classical Preparatory school in Shady Hills. (Credit Image: © Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Press Wire)

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Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., signed a life-affirming bill Thursday, banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“We are here today to defend those that can’t defend themselves,” the governor said. “It is the most significant protection for life that’s been enacted in this state in a generation.”

HB 5, best known as the Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act, will prohibit abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, significantly reducing Florida’s original limit of 24 weeks.

The legislation allows exceptions only in cases where the mother’s life is either at risk or if the baby has a fetal abnormality. The bill does not allow exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

The measure passed the Republican-led House by a 78-39 vote in February after hours of debate and delay by protestors. The Florida Senate voted 23-15 to pass the measure in early March.

“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,” DeSantis announced. “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.”

The legislation mirrors Mississippi’s law prohibiting nearly all abortions after 15 weeks, at the center of Dobbs v. Jackson.  

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the abortion case last December, which conservatives hope will signal the end of Roe v. Wade should the court rule in favor of Mississippi.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt also signed legislation banning abortion this month, prohibiting all abortions except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk. Under state law, abortionists could face fines up to $100,000 and imprisonment of up to 10 for illegally performing abortions.

Florida’s latest abortion law will take effect on July 1, 2022.

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