Florida GOP’s 15-week abortion ban nears final passage

March 3, 2022 GMT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Republicans in the Florida Senate on Wednesday advanced a proposal to ban abortions after 15 weeks, rejecting Democratic attempts to soften its restrictions and add exceptions for rape, incest or trafficking.

The bill, which has already been approved by the GOP-controlled House, is now set for a final vote in the Senate after Republicans dismissed a slew of amendments from Democrats.

The measure comes as Republicans around the country move to limit access to abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court signaled it would uphold a Mississippi law prohibiting the procedure after 15 weeks and potentially overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Florida’s proposal contains exceptions if the abortion is necessary to save a mother’s life, prevent serious injury to the mother or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. The state currently allows abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Republicans have repeatedly blocked Democratic amendments that would have added exceptions in the bill for pregnancies caused by rape, incest or human trafficking. On Wednesday, Sen. Lauren Book, a Democrat, again attempted to insert the exceptions into the bill, telling lawmakers “I’m appealing to your basic human dignity.”

“I am asking you to give those survivors more time to heal, physically, mentally, emotionally, to make this decision. Give them time,” she said.

Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Republican who has previously said allowing such exemptions would give criminals more room to hide sexual crimes, said the 15-week ban is reasonable and still provides women with enough time to get the procedure.

She added that providing the exemptions could bring about false claims of rape, saying “if one of the only opportunities to have an abortion is if the woman was raped, I fear for the men who are going to be accused of a rape so that the woman can have an abortion because that’s her only way out.”

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has previously signaled his support for the proposal.