Republicans in Florida’s House of Representatives approved a 15-week abortion ban early Thursday, tightening access to the procedure ahead of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could limit abortion rights in America.
The Republican-controlled House passed the 15-week abortion ban after several hours of debate between Democrats who said the measure would impose an excessive burden on women and Republicans who said they were protecting the unborn.
“This is the right to life and to give up life is unconscionable to me,” said Republican Rep. Dana Trabulsy, who disclosed that she previously had an abortion but has “regretted it every day since.”
After the United States Supreme Court signaled it would uphold a Mississippi law prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks and potentially overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, Republicans in several state legislatures are moving to impose new abortion restrictions. The decision of that case is expected later this year.
Republicans in Arizona and West Virginia advanced their own 15-week abortion bans this week, and Republicans in other states are modeling legislation after a Texas law that effectively banned abortions after six weeks.
There seem to be exceptions in Florida’s bill if the abortion is needed to save a mother’s life, prevent serious injury to the mother, or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. Abortions are currently legal in the state up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Republicans have repeatedly rejected Democratic attempts to amend the bill to include additional exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape, incest, or human trafficking.
“As a woman, it is my right to make decisions about my body and what is in the best interest of my family,” said Rep. Robin Bartleman, a Democrat. “God forbid your 11-year-old is raped and pregnant and you find out after 15 weeks, you don’t get to get your daughter that abortion, that’s what this law says.”
Near the end of the House debate, a group of activists in the House gallery broke out into a chant of “my body, my choice,” forcing the chamber to pause before lawmakers cast their votes.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has previously stated his support for the proposal. The bill will now be heard in the Republican-controlled Senate.