Q&A – The Possible Impact of Banning Abortions in Florida After 15 Weeks

Austin, Texas Abortion Debate, July, 2013

Photo: Getty Images

Today’s entry: How many abortions would be impacted by the proposed FL abortion ban? You discussed national numbers during the Miss SCOTUS case.

Bottom Line: The Mississippi law that's currently being considered before the Supreme Court blocks abortions after 15 weeks. Now, a similar bill has been proposed in Florida’s current legislative session. Importantly, if it’s to stand a chance of passing in this year’s state session, it needed to be proposed in both chambers. That’s happened. Senator Kelli Stargel has sponsored it in Florida’s Senate and Erin Grall is sponsoring the House bill.

With only about 5% of bills ever passing Florida’s state sessions, the greatest tell as to if legislation has a real chance of getting anywhere is if it starts with companion legislation in both chambers. Check. The next most important indication is whether the Governor is on board. That’s proved especially true during Governor DeSantis’ time as governor as he’s regularly driven the agenda.

On Tuesday, when asked about the proposed legislation, Governor DeSantis said, "there’s a lot of pro-life legislation. We’re going to be welcoming it. I haven’t looked at every single bill. I think if you look at what’s been done in some of these other states – I mean when you start talking about 15 weeks where you have really serious pain and heartbeats and all this stuff – having protections I think is something that makes a lot of sense". Check. The Gov’s onboard. All the pieces are in place for this legislation to potentially become law in Florida this year.

Many may not realize it but new laws regulating abortion have already been signed into law in recent years in Florida. Florida’s current regs regarding abortions via the Guttmacher Institute include a patient must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage the patient from having an abortion.

Should the bills pass as currently proposed the existing provisions of Florida law would remain with the timeline being dropped from 24 to 15 weeks. Now, to address your question as to what the impact would be should this become law. The most recent annual data from the Guttmacher Institute showed an estimated 71,050 abortions occurred in Florida. Were the new bill to become law, only approximately 3,339 abortions performed would have been blocked if the proposed legislation had already been in force. Beyond the outcome of the bills during this state session, the major wildcard remains the Supreme Court and how they rule in that Mississippi case. If the court were to strike down Mississippi’s law, it effectively would strike down Florida’s as well if passed. If upheld, it’d effectively uphold Florida’s.

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