Ron DeSantis backs proposed post-15-week abortion ban with no rape or incest exemption

Bill is similar to one being challenging in the Supreme Court

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Wednesday 12 January 2022 19:17 GMT
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Florida governor Ron DeSantis has come out in support of a restrictive new abortion bill that would bar the prosedure after 15 weeks and doesn’t include exceptions for rape or incest.

“I’m supportive of 15 weeks,” he said on Wednesday. “I think that’s very reasonable and I think that’s very consistent with being supportive of protecting life. We’ll work with them as they kind of get through that process, but I think that’ll be something that we would be able to sign and I think a lot of people will be very happy with that.”

GOP lawmakers introduced a pair of bills with the new restrictions in the state House and Senate on Tuesday, the first day of the legislative session.

The legislation also joins another even more strict Republican proposal from last fall, which would see Florida implement an abortion bill modeled after a controversial Texas law. Texas’s law, which was put in place last year, as well as the pending GOP proposal, outlaws abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, around six weeks into a pregnancy, before many people know they are pregnant.

“Florida’s 15 week abortion ban has been filed — and of course they’re trying to brand it as NOT being an abortion ban. That’s because Republican members know that abortion bans are extreme and not supported by the majority of our state or country,” wrote Democratic Florida representative Anna V Eskamani in a statement on twitter on Tuesday. “Be ready to fight.”

If either of the proposed 15-week or six-week abortion bans are signed into law, they could cause a massive legal fight.

The Texas law, which remains in place, prompted abortion providers to sue. The case reached the Supreme Court, where a majority in November sent the suit down to a lower court to continue, allowing the restrictions to remain in place while the case played out.

"This is a dark day for abortion patients and for physicians and providers," Marc Hearron, senior council for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said of the ruling. "It is also a dark day for anyone who cares about constitutional rights."

Studies have suggested that abortions have plummeted to half their normal level since Texas’s new law went into effect. The six-week ban is not the only controversial part of the legislation. It also makes regular citizens, rather than officials, the de facto enforcers of the ban, allowing anyone to sue someone who “aids and abets” an abortion and providing a $10,000 award for those who are successful.

This makes it harder to challenge the law in court, since most court decisions challenging such rules enjoin government officials from enforcing a law, not private citizens.

Things could get even more dicey for abortion in 2021, as the Supreme Court weighs striking down the bedrock abortion case of Roe v Wade, which found the constitution provided a right to an abortion.

There, abortion providers have challenged a Missippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks, but in the process, the state has asked the court to reconsider its entire abortion jurisprudence and overturn Roe.

With a firm conservative majority on the court, thanks to three appoints from Donald Trump during his term in office, abortion advocates are worried this could mean the end of a national legal right to abortion, which the 1973 Roe decision established.

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