The Florida Senate has approved a controversial abortion bill that would ban the procedure after 15 weeks, making exceptions for cases only where continued pregnancy could result in significant risk to the pregnant person or fetus.
The chamber voted Thursday along party lines to approve the bill 23 to 15. The bill now goes to Governor Ron DeSantis and, if signed into law, would go into effect July 1. DeSantis has signaled his support for the bill.
The bill follows others across the country that have cropped up in state legislatures, and which if passed would curb access to abortion in conservative-controlled states. In their latest sessions, state legislatures in Arizona and West Virginia have also advanced bills that would ban abortion after 15 weeks.
The fate of a similar bill in Mississippi is now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court. The bill passed in the state legislature in 2018 but was challenged by abortion rights groups in the lower courts. Should the Supreme Court rule in favor of Mississippi, the decision could effectively reverse that in the landmark decision Roe v. Wade.
Following the Florida bill’s passage, its sponsor, Republican lawmaker Kelli Stargel, gave tearful closing remarks to the Senate session, a Florida news affiliate reports. “I never dreamed I’d be standing here today, not just giving parental notice, but actually being able to save the life of babies that are past 15 weeks of gestation,” she said, adding, “God is so good.”
Florida Democrats were less rosy in their assessment of the legislation, calling it “one of the most extreme anti-abortion and anti-freedom bills to ever pass the Florida legislature.”
Democrats noted in their statement that the bill does not allow for exceptions in cases of rape and incest, despite Democrats’ efforts to include such exceptions.
“This is a sad day for reproductive rights in Florida, but our fight is not over,” the statement continued, calling on the governor to veto the legislation, and for voters to take action in the November elections.