Ron DeSantis Set To Sign Strictest Florida Abortion Ban in History

Florida is set to be the latest state to implement restrictive abortion laws after the Republican-led Senate passed a bill to outlaw the procedure after 15 weeks, the strictest ban in the state's history

Florida's upper chamber passed H.B. 5 in a 23-15 vote on Thursday night after the Florida House of Representatives approved the bill in February.

The bill to ban abortions after 15 weeks will now be sent to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' office, with the Republican having already expressed approval for the legislation.

"Governor DeSantis is pro-life and has voiced support for the concepts in this bill," his spokesperson, Christina Pushaw, told Reuters prior to the vote.

If DeSantis signs the Florida bill, it will take effect on July 1.

Florida currently allows abortions until 24 weeks and has fewer restrictions than other southern states such as Alabama and Georgia.

The new proposals will reduce the legal limit to 15 weeks and will ban the procedure unless it is necessary to save a mother's life or prevent serious injury, or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality.

A number of lawmakers criticized the bill for not including exceptions such as if a pregnancy occurs in the case of rape, incest or human trafficking.

Prior to the vote, Sen. Lauren Book, a Democrat, gave an emotional speech in the chamber in which she revealed she was gang raped as a child while urging lawmakers to not force victims to make a decision on having an abortion before 15 weeks.

"It took months for me to leave my house. I became agoraphobic and couldn't leave," she said, via the Sun Sentinel. "There is no prescribed path for healing for this. I was in the throes of anorexia, self-mutilation. I was merely trying to get to the next moment and the next day."

Book said many sexual assault victims who get pregnant choose to have an abortion as they "don't want to see the face of their rapists every single time they looked at their child.

"And that is their choice. It takes time to make those decisions," she said.

Republicans argued that 15 weeks is a reasonable amount of time to make such a decision and noted that it is not aiming to completely ban the procedure.

"The only thing that we're asking in this bill is that whatever decision you make, you do it before the 15 weeks," said Senator Ileana Garcia.

The Florida bill is mirroring a 15-week abortion ban enacted by Mississippi which is currently under review by the Supreme Court. Similar bills to introduce a 15-week ban on abortions are also moving forward in West Virginia and Arizona.

Some states are also attempting to mimic Texas' hugely restrictive ban on abortions in almost all circumstances after just six weeks.

On Thursday, the Idaho Senate approved a bill to ban abortions after six weeks, becoming the first state to copy the Texas law.

DeSantis has been contacted for comment.

ron desantis abortion
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference at the Shul of Bal Harbour on June 14, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. He looks set to sign a bill into law which would ban abortions after 15 weeks in Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images