Florida abortions: What you need to know about bill expected to become new law

Cheryl McCloud
Tallahassee Democrat

A ban on abortions after 15 weeks is on its way to becoming law in Florida.

A vote along party lines was passed in the Florida House Feb. 16., moving the bill to the Florida Senate. The Senate passed the proposal, again along party lines, Thursday night.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign the bill into law. If the bill becomes law, it's widely expected to be challenged in court.

The bill would be Florida's most restrictive abortion law since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision established a woman's constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy and shortens by more than two months the current window available to legally terminate a pregnancy. 

The House debated for more than 5 hours Feb. 16 before voting 78-39 just after midnight to send the bill (HB 5- Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality) to the Senate.

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The Senate debated the bill for more than 6 hours over two days before voting 78-39.

  DeSantis has signaled he favors the bill, saying when it was filed last month that a ban on abortions after 15 weeks "makes a lot of sense."

Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, and Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, sponsored the measure and said it mirrors a Mississippi law that is now before the nation's high court.

Florida House Bill 5: No abortions after 15 weeks unless certain conditions are met

The 13-page bill doesn't mention abortions until page 9, when it defines a medical abortion as one that means "the administration or use of an abortion-inducing drug to induce abortion."

If a physician determines the fetus is more than 15 weeks, the bill says the physician may not terminate the pregnancy, unless one of these conditions are met:

  • Two physicians certify in writing that, in reasonable medical judgment, terminating the pregnancy is necessary to save the pregnant woman's life or avert a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the woman "other than psychological." In an emergency medical situation, a single physician can certify the abortion is necessary if the above conditions are met.
  • The fetus has not achieved viability (as defined under Florida Statute 390.01112) and two physicians certify in writing that in reasonable medical judgment, the fetus has a fatal fetal abnormality.

Reporting of all abortions performed would be required

A monthly report would be required to be sent to the Agency for Health Care Administration by the director of any medical facility in which abortions were performed. 

If the abortion isn't done in a medical facility, the physician performing the abortion would be required to file a report.

The report must include:

  • The reasons the abortion was performed.
  • If a woman has provided evidence that she is a victim of human trafficking that reason must be included in the report.
  • The gestation age at the time the abortion was performed.
  • The number of infants born alive or alive immediately after an attempted abortion.
  • The number of medication abortion regimens prescribed or dispensed.

The bill notes that all reports shall be kept confidential and exempt from the provisions of Florida's Sunshine Law 119.07(1).

More than $1M allocated for review committees

For the 2022-2023 fiscal year, $1,602,000 in recurring funds from the General Revenue Fund would be appropriated to the Department of Health for the purpose of establishing fetal and infant mortality review committees.

If signed into law, when would the abortion ban take effect?

The act would take effect July 1 

What else is in the House bill?

Recognizing that the Florida Constitution requires funding of statewide tobacco education and prevention programs focusing on tobacco use by youth, the Legislature added that primary goals of a program are to reduce the use of tobacco among youth, adults, pregnant women and women who may become pregnant.

Read the entire Florida House bill about abortions 

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