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Florida lawmakers approve 6-week abortion ban, sending to Governor DeSantis for signature


Anti-abortion rights activists stand outside of the Bread and Roses Woman’s Health Center, a clinic that provides abortions while women arrive to receive patient care in Clearwater, Florida, U.S. February 11, 2023. REUTERS/Octavio Jones/File Photo

Florida’s Republican-led House of Representatives on Thursday gave final approval to a six-week abortion ban, setting the stage for abortion access to be drastically curtailed in the state and across the U.S. South.

Lawmakers in the Florida House on Thursday approved the six-week ban with a vote of 70-40. The bill passed the state Senate by a vote of 26-13 on April 3.

The legislation, which makes exceptions for abortions in cases of rape, incest and when the mother’s life or health are at serious risk, next heads to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis for his signature.

DeSantis, who is expected to seek the Republican nomination for president in 2024, has said he supports restricting the state’s gestational abortion limit to six weeks. Florida currently allows abortions through 15 weeks.

Backing more severe restrictions could carry political risks for DeSantis should he win the Republican nomination.

While some 13 states ban abortion at six weeks and earlier, polling has consistently showed that most Americans support legal abortion in most cases. A Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Wednesday found 43% of Republicans said they were less likely to vote for a politician who supports limiting access to abortion.

The fate of the ban may depend on the outcome of a court challenge to the state’s current 15-week abortion ban, which abortion providers have argued violates the state constitutional right to privacy. The case is pending with the Florida Supreme Court.

Patients from across the U.S. Southeast have been traveling to Florida to end their pregnancies since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, gutting federal abortion rights. Most other states in the region have already banned the procedure at early stages of pregnancy.

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