Abortion restriction bill signed by Florida Gov. DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, shown at a news conference on Feb. 1, signed a bill into law Thursday that bans abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.
(Rebecca Blackwell / Associated Press)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill Thursday that bans abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy as the state joined a growing conservative push to restrict access ahead of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could limit the procedure nationwide.

The new law marks a significant blow to abortion access in the South, where Florida has provided wider access to the procedure than its neighbors.

The new law, which takes effect July 1, contains exceptions if the abortion is necessary to save a mother’s life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow for exemptions in cases where pregnancies were caused by rape, incest or human trafficking. Under current law, Florida allows abortions up to 24 weeks.


“This will represent the most significant protections for life that have been enacted in this state in a generation,” DeSantis said as he signed the bill at the Nación de Fe (Nation of Faith), an evangelical church in Kissimmee whose members are mostly Latino.

“The Future of Abortion” is a series of stories about the state of abortion is it is challenged in America.

DeSantis, a Republican rising star and potential 2024 presidential candidate, signed the measure after several women spoke about choosing not to have abortions and one who regretted having had one.

Some of the people in attendance, including young children, stood behind the speakers holding signs saying, “Choose life,” while those who spoke stood at a podium to which was affixed a sign displaying an infant’s feet and a depiction of a heartbeat reading, “Protect Life.”

Elsewhere in the United States, Republican lawmakers have introduced new abortion restrictions, some similar to a Texas law that bans abortion after roughly six weeks and leaves enforcement up to private citizens, which the Supreme Court decided to leave in place.

Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt recently signed a bill to make it a felony to perform an abortion, punishable by up to a decade in prison. Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in March signed legislation to outlaw abortion after 15 weeks if the Supreme Court leaves in place a Mississippi law that makes most such abortions illegal.

If Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal nationwide, is overturned, 26 states are certain or likely to quickly ban or severely restrict the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank that supports abortion rights. During debate of the Florida legislation, Republicans said they want the state to be well placed to limit access to abortions if the Supreme Court upholds Mississippi’s law.