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A ban on most abortions after 6 weeks goes to the Florida House floor on Thursday

Hundreds gathered for a rally at Straub Park in St. Petersburg after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade on June 24, 2022.
Octavio Jones
WUSF Social Media
Hundreds gathered for a rally at Straub Park in St. Petersburg after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade on June 24, 2022.

The House could vote on the measure Friday. The Senate approved its version more than a week ago. If passed, the legislation would go to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign it into law.

The Florida House this week could give final approval to a bill that seeks to prevent abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

The House will take up the proposal (HB 7 and SB 300) on Thursday, which could lead to a vote on Friday, according to a document posted Monday night.

The Senate on April 3 voted 26-13 to approve the six-week limit, and the Republican-controlled House is expected to follow suit.

The legislation comes after the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling and left abortion decisions to the states.

If passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the proposal would be subject to a major caveat: Seven abortion clinics and a physician filed a constitutional challenge to a 15-week limit passed last year.

The new bill spurred heavy debate on the Senate floor last week, while protesters in the Senate gallery interrupted the proceedings several times by shouting in opposition.

Supporters of the bill, including House Speaker Paul Renner, say the bill supports a culture of life and that fetal heartbeats can be detected at six weeks of pregnancy.

“You can argue, and agree or disagree, on whether it should be six weeks or eight weeks or 12 weeks or no weeks," Renner said. "We have people on our side of the aisle who would rather have a complete ban, but this is what democracy looks like.”

Democrats, including House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa), say the bill would effectively ban abortion in Florida, in part because many women don’t know they are pregnant at six weeks.

“It is an incredibly personal decision that a woman should make in consultation with her doctor and with her family," Driskell said. "She does not need Tallahassee politicians in the doctor’s office with her, looking over her shoulder, making decisions for her.”

A key issue in that legal challenge is whether the 15-week limit violates a privacy clause in the Florida Constitution that has helped protect abortion rights in the state for more than three decades.

Under the proposed legislation, moving to a six-week limit would be contingent on the Florida Supreme Court effectively upholding the 15-week law.

The bill includes exceptions for survivors of rape and incest up to 15 weeks, but patients are required to present proof with a restraining order, police report, medical record or other court order or documentation.

The proposal would also allow abortions after six weeks if physicians certify that the patient's life is in danger or if a fatal fetal abnormality is detected before the third trimester.

Information from News Service of Florida's Tom Urban and Health News Florida's Stephanie Colombini was used in this report.

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