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Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Steven Lemongello and Mark Skoneki

DeSantis signs law banning most abortions after 15 weeks

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Most abortions in Florida would be banned after 15 weeks of pregnancy under a bill signed into law by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday.

The governor signed the legislation, effective July 1, surrounded by GOP lawmakers and in front of a large crowd at Nacion de Fe Church in Kissimmee with a screen that read “Florida is Pro-Life” and “Protect Life” behind him.

“We are here today to protect life,” the governor told the cheering crowd. “We are here today to defend those who can’t defend themselves.”

Florida now has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to consider a similar measure approved in Mississippi. Abortion-rights activists fear the high court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, which established the constitutional right to abortion in 1973.

The Florida law allows abortions after 15 weeks only if a fetus is found to have a “fatal fetal abnormality,” which the bill describes as “a terminal condition that, in reasonable medical judgment, regardless of the provision of life-saving medical treatment, is incompatible with life outside the womb and will result in death upon birth or imminently thereafter.”

Two doctors would have to certify that diagnosis.

Abortion is currently legal up to the 24th week of pregnancy in Florida.

Despite efforts by Democrats to amend the bill during the regular session earlier this year, it does not include exceptions for rape and incest.

During debate in March, Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, defended excluding an exception for rape and incest, saying a fetus is a child that shouldn’t be aborted because of the manner in which it was conceived.

“These are babies,” she said. “It is not a choice. It is a child. I know we’ve seen it on the posters, but it is the truth.”

The law was signed just days after a state judge approved a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions. Her ruling came after years of legal wrangling over that law approved in 2015.


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