Florida Gov. DeSantis Signs Highly Restrictive 15-Week Abortion Ban into Law

Florida Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book, who revealed that she was drugged and raped as a teenager, had tried to include an amendment that would allow exceptions for rape and incest

Abortion rights protest
Photo: Sergio Flores For The Washington Post via Getty

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a bill prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy into law.

Under the new law, abortions are banned after a fetus reaches a gestational age of 15 weeks with only two exceptions: "a fatal fetal abnormality" or "serious risk" to the pregnant person. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

"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," DeSantis said Thursday in a statement.

The bill initially passed in Florida's legislature on March 3. Democrats proposed over a dozen amendments to the bill, including requesting an exception for rape and incest, which ultimately failed, according to CNN.

In a statement released after the bill's approval, Florida state Democrats called it "one of the most extreme and anti-freedom bills to ever pass" the state's legislature and "a direct assault on the people of Florida and our constitutional rights."

Abortion rights protest
Chasity Maynard/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty

"Let me be clear: there is no such thing as a reasonable abortion ban. Nothing in this ban is moderate, it is extreme," the Democrats said. "This is a sad day for reproductive rights in Florida, but our fight is not over."

Barring legal challenges, the law is set take effect on July 1. Planned Parenthood of Greater South, East and North Florida has vowed to take action.

"This abortion ban is an attack on our most fundamental freedoms — the right to control our own bodies, our own futures," Stephanie Fraim, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida said in a statement. "For politicians like Ron DeSantis to put themselves between patients and health care providers making personal medical decisions is outrageous. If these politicians think the fight against this abortion ban is over they are sadly mistaken. We won't rest until our rights are restored."

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Florida Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book had proposed the amendment that would have allowed for exceptions for rape and incest, and was ultimately rejected.

In her plea to fellow legislators, the 37-year-old Broward County rep said she is "deeply concerned about what it will mean for women and girls across the state" who may become pregnant under such circumstances.

In making the case, Book also revealed through tears that she was drugged and raped by multiple men as a young teenager, the Associated Press reported.

"This particular group has already had their rights taken, already had their body autonomy violated, had no choice in becoming pregnant and should have every single bit of choice in what happens to her body next," the Senate minority leader said on the Florida Senate floor, in a clip shared by the Florida Senate Democrats on Twitter.

The Sunshine State is the latest to pass a 15-week abortion ban this session. West Virginia, Arizona, Kentucky and others have all enacted similar legislation, as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to rule on a Mississippi law that also bans abortion after 15 weeks.

The conservative-led court is expected to uphold Mississippi's law, essentially overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

"I believe we have a unique opportunity in the fact that the Supreme Court is considering 15 weeks right now," said Republican State Rep. Erin Grall, who sponsored the Florida bill in the House, according to The Washington Post. "This would allow Florida to save as many babies as possible as soon as possible after that decision is made."

Florida, which currently allows abortions up to 24 weeks, first proposed its 15-week abortion ban in September. The legislation came shortly after Texas passed its controversial six-week abortion ban.

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