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Florida Senate passes a bill banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy

User DXR via Wikimedia Commons
The six-week abortion limit was filed on the first day of the 2023 legislative session.

The vote was mostly along party lines, with two Republicans joining Democrats in opposition.

Florida's Republican-controlled Senate passed a proposed six-week abortion ban by a vote of 26 to 13. It now goes to the House for final approval.

While state senators spoke on the chamber floor, several people in the gallery shouted down Republican lawmakers who were testifying in favor of the bill — until authorities removed them from the building.

Opponents say the bill would effectively end legal abortions in Florida, as many women don’t knowthey are pregnant at six weeks.

Before the final vote, Democratic state Senator Lauren Book made one last plea to her Republican colleagues.

"Look in your hearts and know that if you vote for this ban, things will get worse,” she said. “Women will get sick; Women will be permanently disabled. Women will die."

Later, Book and Democratic party chair Nikki Fried were arrested outside Tallahassee City Hall.

During public testimony Monday, Democratic state Senator Lori Berman called the bill "inhumane."

"Decisions about abortion should be between a woman, her doctor and her trusted circle of confidantes,” she said. "Not her legislators."

But state Senator Erin Grall defended the bill she sponsored, saying, "the termination of life meets the definition of murder."

Reproductive rights advocates protested in Tallahassee before Mondays state Senate vote.
Florida NOW
Reproductive rights advocates protested in Tallahassee before Mondays state Senate vote.

The vote was mostly along party lines, with Sen. Corey Simon, R-Tallahassee, and Sen. Alexis Calatayud, R-Miami, joining Democrats in opposition.

The six-week abortion bill features exceptions for survivors of rape and incest up to 15 weeks. However patients are required to present proof such as a restraining order, or police report.

In February, Gov. Ron DeSantis indicated support for the six-week ban saying, “We’re for pro-life. I urge the legislature to work, produce good stuff, and we will sign.”

Florida law currently bans abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy and
a legal challenge to that law is before the state Supreme Court.

Litigants argue the law violates a privacy clause in the Florida Constitution that has previously helped protect abortion rights.

According to a recentpoll by the Public Religion Research Institute, 64% of Floridians believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases.

Despite being kicked out of the Capitol, activists such as Kat Duesterhaus, Communications Director for the National Organization for Women, say they won’t back down and will continue to protest abortion restrictions.

“Maternal mortality rates are three times higher in states that banned abortion post-Dobbs,” she shouted from the Senate chamber before being escorted out of the building.

As a reporter, my goal is to tell a story that moves you in some way. To me, the best way to do that begins with listening. Talking to people about their lives and the issues they care about is my favorite part of the job.
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