TALLAHASSEE, Florida (LifeSiteNews) – The Florida House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that would ban abortions by 15 weeks of pregnancy in anticipation of a Supreme Court decision that may overturn Roe v. Wade.
The House approved the bill, HB 5, in a 78-39 vote along party lines Wednesday night.
HB 5, introduced by Republican Rep. Erin Gall, includes exceptions in cases where a mother allegedly risks death or “irreversible physical impairment,” but not for rape or incest.
“This is the right to life and to give up life is unconscionable to me,” said Rep. Dana Trabulsy, who voted for the bill. Trabulsy revealed that she had abortion but has “regretted it every day since.”
One Republican, Rep. Rene Plasencia, voted against the measure. HB 5 now heads to the state Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has previously stated that he would support a 15-week abortion ban. “I am supportive of 15 weeks,” the GOP governor said in January. “I think that’ll be something we’ll be able to sign and I think a lot of people would be happy with that.”
DeSantis has also vowed to sign legislation to outlaw abortion when a baby’s heartbeat can be detected, typically by around six weeks of pregnancy.
State law currently prohibits abortion in Florida at 24 weeks’ gestation. The Republican-led legislature did not pass a bill filed last year that would have banned abortion at 20 weeks and has repeatedly dropped fetal heartbeat bills in past sessions.
HB 5 and a companion bill, SB 146, are modeled after a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi currently before the Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The high court has signaled that it may strike down Roe v. Wade in the Mississippi case. A decision is expected in June.
If enacted, HB 5 would provide the strongest protections for unborn children in state history, national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA) said Thursday.
“We are greatly encouraged to see common sense limits on late abortions moving forward in the Florida Legislature,” said SBA List state policy director Sue Liebel. “The U.S. is a global outlier in allowing abortion on demand well past the point when unborn babies can feel pain.”
Around four percent of abortions in Florida – more than 3,300 – occurred at 15 weeks of pregnancy or later in 2020, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the SBA List’s research arm. As of 2020, Florida has one of the highest abortion rates in the U.S. at 19.2 per 1,000 women, and 65 abortion sites – triple that of any other southern state.
The 15-week ban would significantly curb late-term abortion in the Southeast, as many women seeking late abortions travel to Florida due to looser restrictions, according to Reuters.
The most common method of aborting a baby in the second trimester, which starts at 14 weeks’ gestation, is dismemberment abortion, also known as dilation and evacuation (D&E). Dismemberment abortion involves ripping off the limbs and crushing the skull of a fully-formed baby with a sopher clamp and removing him or her from the womb.
By 15 weeks of pregnancy, babies are able to feel pain throughout much of their body, including in their trunks and limbs, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) has noted. Unborn babies can perceive pain around the peri-oral area as early as seven weeks, and in the palms and soles by 11 weeks.
“Early in the second trimester, the fetus reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human, in much the same ways as an adult, for example, by recoiling,” according to the AAPLOG.
Arizona Senate passes 15-week ban
Republican lawmakers in several states have advanced similar life-saving measures this year ahead of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling, including in Arizona.
The Arizona Senate passed a 15-week abortion ban Tuesday, sending the legislation to the state House.
“The state has an obligation to protect life, and that is what this bill is about,” bill sponsor Sen. Nancy Barto, a Republican, said. “A 15-week-old baby in the womb has a fully formed nose, lips, eyelids, they suck their thumbs. They feel pain. That’s what this bill is about.”
Barto’s bill, SB 1164, states that physicians may not knowingly “perform, induce or attempt to perform or induce” an abortion of a baby after 15 weeks of gestation, except in cases of “medical emergency” that pose risk of death or irreversible injury to the mother.
Doctors who violate the law could face felony charges and lose their medical licenses. Like Florida’s bill, there are no exceptions for rape or incest.
All Republicans in the state Senate voted for SB 1164, which passed the upper chamber 16-13.
Arizona last year enacted a sweeping pro-life law that banned eugenic abortion of babies with disabilities, such as Down syndrome. A “trigger” law would prohibit abortion outright in the state in the event that the Supreme Court overturns Roe.
SB 1164 is expected to pass the state House, where Republicans hold a majority. Gov. Doug Ducey, a moderate Republican and frequent supporter of the LGBT movement, has signed all pro-life bills that have made it to his desk, according to the Associated Press.