Florida Senate Approves First Stage of Bill Preventing Abortion After 15-Weeks, Removing Exceptions for Rape and Incest

Toby Hazlewood

Following in the footsteps of Mississippi?

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Florida's Republican-controlled Senate Health Policy Committee voted on February 2 to approve the controversial 'Fatal and Infant Mortality Reduction' bill - SB 146. The bill is becoming one of the more controversial topics for discussion in the state's 2022 legislative season and seeks to restrict the circumstances under which pregnant women can choose to terminate the pregnancy.

The proposal would prevent abortions after 15-weeks, and further remove exemptions granted in the case of rape or incest. The bill seems to follow in the footsteps of other Republican-led states such as Texas and Mississippi that have introduced similar restrictions on women's freedom of choice.

The likelihood of the bill making it into state law depend on the political climate in Florida, and may also be influenced by events in the wider U.S.

Mississippi challenging Roe vs Wade

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering testimony given in December 2021 in a landmark case - Dobbs vs Jackson Women's Health Organization - that would weaken or even overturn Roe vs Wade which was the landmark case that effectively legalized abortion rights for women in the U.S. In challenging the law, Mississippi is also seeking to allow abortions up to 15-weeks, restricting the freedom of choice for women in the state.

It seems likely too that the case could be upheld, with 6 of 9 Supreme Court Justices being right-leaning conservatives.

Texas went even further

Texas introduced restrictive anti-abortion laws last year, which were described by the United Nations as 'sex discrimination at its worst'.

Texas laws prevented women from choosing to have a pregnancy aborted after around 6-weeks - when a fetal heartbeat could first be detected. Under the law, women were denied the choice over whether a pregnancy should be carried to term, regardless of whether it resulted from incest or rape, or threatened the child or the mother's health.

Governor Abbott's solution to this? To supposedly do what nobody has ever managed to do before, and eliminate rapists making rape a thing of the past. Quite how this would be achieved is anyone's guess. It drew criticism on social media and in news outlets alike:

In addition to robbing women of choice, Texans are incentivized to seek a bounty for turning in those who assist pregnant women in getting an abortion. The $10,000 bounty can be collected by filing a lawsuit.

Whether these laws seem like a positive step forwards will surely depend upon individual views. The Supreme Court case could certainly make the laws more likely to be adopted if they make it through the state's senate.

What do you think of the proposed anti-abortion laws in Florida? Are you in favor of such restrictions or do you favor freedom of choice? Let me know in the comments section below.

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