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Florida’s 15-Week Abortion Ban Threatens Rights and Dignity

Young People Could Face Particular Harm

Advocates stand at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee to protest a bill before the Florida legislature to limit abortions, February 16, 2022. © 2022 Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

The Senate for the US state of Florida passed a cruel and dangerous bill today that will ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The bill threatens the rights, health, and dignity of Floridians, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis should veto it.

In recent weeks, as the bill advanced through several legislative committees, young people from across the state traveled to the capital to urge legislators not to diminish their bodily autonomy. Abortion providers told legislators that this bill will prevent them from providing the best standard of care to patients experiencing miscarriages.

House and Senate Democrats repeatedly fought for amendments to the bill to at least allow survivors of rape, incest, or human trafficking to seek abortion care after 15 weeks’ gestation. Republican legislators rejected all of them, voting against any exceptions for survivors of violence.

The 15-week ban could have particularly harmful impacts on adolescents and young people who already face barriers and delays accessing abortion care because of Florida’s forced parental consent law. That law requires anyone under 18 to get consent from a parent or legal guardian before having an abortion or endure a potentially traumatizing court process.

Florida’s judicial bypass process came under national scrutiny in recent weeks when an appeals court decision revealed that a circuit court judge had denied a young person’s petition for a judicial waiver to obtain an abortion without involving a parent, in part because he thought her high school grade point average was too low.

Being denied access to an abortion can have serious and lasting consequences for a pregnant person’s health and well-being. For survivors of violence, denial of abortion care may amount to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment under international human rights law.

The Florida bill is part of a broader attack on reproductive rights in state legislatures across the US. According to the Guttmacher Institute, state legislatures enacted 106 abortion restrictions last year, the highest number since the US Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision protecting abortion access, which the court may soon overturn.  

Florida’s governor should defend rights and veto the harmful 15-week ban.

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