UPDATE JULY 5: Abortion law changed quickly Tuesday as a Leon County judge issued a written order in the morning stopping Florida’s new ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a move which was immediately appealed by the state.
With the notice to appeal filed by Attorney General Ashely Moody, the 15-week standard that took effect July 1 went back into place as the matter advances in court. The law, signed in April by Gov. Ron DeSantis, was ruled by Judge John Cooper as a likely violation of the state constitution’s right to privacy.
Below is the previous story, detailing what changes went into effect July 1.
On Friday, June 24 the Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that constitutionally established the right to abortion.
That passes abortion laws to the states, where Republican lawmakers are set to ban abortion in about half of them while Democratic-led states are likely to reinforce protections for the procedure. Access to abortion, in other words, will depend almost entirely on where you live.
What does that mean to Floridians?
Here's what the new abortion law, which goes into effect July 1, means for pregnant people in Florida.
Abortions in America: Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, eliminating constitutional right to abortion
What does overturning Roe v. Wade mean?
Previously Florida's new abortion law may have faced a constitutional challenge since it was more restrictive than Roe v. Wade. That is no longer the case.
What does Florida's abortion ban do?
As of July 1, the "Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality" law (HB 5) bans all abortions at 15 weeks and later. The only exceptions are if carrying the pregnancy to term would result in serious injury or death for the mother or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality.
Two physicians must certify, in writing, that one of those conditions warrants the procedure. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.
The new law redefines "gestation" from "between fertilization and birth" to "as calculated from the first day of the pregnant woman's last menstrual period."
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How many months is 15 weeks?
Fifteen weeks comes out to three months and three weeks.
A full-term pregnancy is considered to be 39-40 weeks.
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Does the Florida abortion bill make exceptions for rape, incest, human trafficking or mental health?
Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate defeated amendments that would have made exceptions for rape, incest, human trafficking and mental health.
"After 15 weeks, that is a child. And so the argument is, should you kill a baby after 15 weeks because it was (conceived) under certain circumstances?" Senate President Wilton Simpson said.
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Does Florida have a waiting period for abortions?
Yes. As of April the state requires anyone seeking an abortion wait 24 hours after an initial doctor’s visit before returning to undergo the procedure.
Can minors get an abortion in Florida?
Florida required minors seeking an abortion to notify at least one parent 48 hours before an abortion and obtain consent from a parent or approval from a judge through a legal mechanism known as judicial bypass.
What happens to doctors who perform an abortion after 15 weeks?
If a physician violates the ban, they would be guilty of a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
If I get an abortion after 15 weeks will I be charged with murder?
Unlike Georgia's abortion laws, Florida's does not expressly define a fetus as a human being and there are currently no listed penalties for the person getting the abortion. The state's existing laws only penalize the doctor(s) performing it or anyone actively participating in the procedure.
If I'm pregnant in Florida and need an abortion after 15 weeks, what do I do?
If your pregnancy threatens your life or a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, or if the fetus has not achieved viability and has a fatal abnormality, you still can get an abortion but you would need to get two physicians to certify that in writing first.
Otherwise, you would need to travel out of state, and you may need to drive a while. Like Texas, Georgia bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually about six weeks, often before some people even know they're pregnant.
Florida's laws still are more lenient than other states, including the ones that border us.
“As mind-boggling as it sounds, even with the 15-week restriction, we will be seen as a haven state,” said Alexandra Mandado, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida.
Many states with newly-restrictive laws — and states with bills ready to go — are expected to increase restrictions or ban abortion outright now that the Supreme Court decision has come down.
Which states have banned abortion or made it illegal?
More than 20 states have laws that could be used to restrict the legal status of abortion, according to The Guttmacher Institute, an organization that works to study, educate, and advance sexual and reproductive health and rights.
States with "trigger laws": 13 states have laws that were set to go into effect automatically or through swift state action because federal Roe protections no longer apply: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
Pre-Roe laws: Five additional states had an abortion ban on the books from before Roe v. Wade became law: Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Some of these pre-Roe bans are currently subject to legal challenges.
Six-week bans: Finally, there were a handful of states without "trigger laws" that had enacted bans on abortion six weeks after conception which were not yet in effect: Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, and South Carolina. Texas also had a six-week ban that was already in effect.
Are abortion pills still legal in Florida?
Sort of. In 2021 the Food and Drug Administration permanently removed a key restriction on medication used to terminate pregnancies, allowing so-called "abortion pills" to be available by mail and prescribed through telehealth medical consultations due to pandemic restrictions.
But Florida law requires the physical presence of a doctor for the abortion process, which includes talking to the patient 24 hours before the procedure, so telehealth consultations are not permitted and other abortion restrictions apply. Medical abortions must be performed within the first 11 weeks of pregnancy, an even tighter deadline than the state's.
The abortion pills, mifepristone and misoprostol, also must be prescribed, although people in states where telehealth abortions are banned have started driving over the border to states where they are not, as that can be considerably cheaper than driving to a possibly-far-off and overbooked clinic.
The day the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that the Justice Department will protect providers and anyone seeking abortions in states where it is legal. In particular, Garland said the federal Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of mifepristone for medical abortions.
Medical abortion Q&A: Are abortion pills safe? Can I get out-of-state prescription? Your questions, answered
Where can I find an abortion clinic near me?
You can find a list of abortion clinics and health centers that perform abortions at Planned Parenthood. You also can find clinics through Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration's online facility locator by picking “Abortion clinic” in the “Facility/Provider Type” field.
There are currently 55 clinics in Florida spread across the following counties: Alachua, Broward, Collier, Duval, Escambia, Hillsborough, Lee, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole and St. Lucie. A majority of counties do not have an abortion clinic.
When does the new Florida abortion law take effect?
The law takes effect July 1, 2022.
The 15-week ban is facing two lawsuits, one from a group of Planned Parenthood affiliates and independent providers, and another from a Palm Beach County synagogue. Both challenges seek to block the ban from going into effect and charge that it violates the state constitution’s privacy amendment.
What other restrictions on abortion does Florida have?
Along with the restricted time period, abortion law in Florida currently requires that 24 hours before an abortion can occur, the physician performing it or a referring physician must, while physically in the same room, inform the patient of the physical risks of both getting an abortion and carrying the pregnancy to term and the probable gestational age of the fetus as determined by mandatory ultrasound.
The physician must also provide state-directed counseling materials. The patient may refuse to look at the ultrasound.
How many abortions are done in Florida?
There were 79,648 abortions performed in 2021 in Florida, of which 59,252 (74%) were listed as elective, according to data from the state Agency for Health Care Administration. About 75,000 of them occured in the first trimester, or the first 12 to 13 weeks of pregnancy, compared with 4,850 in the second, according to state data.
State data shows 16,822 abortions were done because of social or economic reasons and 1,503 abortions were for the psychological health of the mother. Another 1,060 abortions were for the health of the mother yet not for life-endangering reasons, the data shows.
There were 757 abortions due to “serious fetal genetic defect, deformity or abnormality,” another 119 abortions were performed because of a life-endangering condition to the mother, eight abortions were performed because of incest and 118 were done because of rape.
Of the abortions because of serious genetic defect or some other abnormality, the state data shows 64% of them, or 484 abortions, were done in the second trimester. The second trimester starts at week 13 and ends at week 26, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Do Florida doctors support the new abortion ban?
Some do, many don't. Roughly 700 physicians in Florida signed an open letter to the state Legislature opposing the 15-week abortion ban, calling it an “alarming attempt to improperly insert politics into the patient-clinician relationship” and said the consequences for Floridians would be dire.
“This legislation is bad medicine and bad policy, and we urge you to reject it for numerous reasons,” the letter states.
Do Florida voters support the new abortion ban?
According to a poll by the University of North Florida's Public Opinion Research Laboratory, 55 percent of voters surveyed opposed the abortion bill. Opposition grew to 60 percent when people were told it didn’t make exceptions for victims of rape or incest.
Thirty-four percent of the people surveyed supported the idea, according to a release from UNF.
How did Florida legislators vote on the abortion bill?
Every Republican in both houses voted for the bill, every Democrat voted against.
One Republican, Sen. Ileana Garcia of Miami, missed the Senate vote but later recorded a 'yes.' Reps. Anika Omphroy of Lauderdale Lakes and Michele Rayner of St. Petersburg missed the House vote but later voted 'no.'
How did lawmakers vote? See who voted for and against abortion bill
Contributors: Liz Freeman, Naples Daily News; James Call, Florida Capital Bureau; Kathryn Varn, Gannett/USA Today Network - Florida
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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: DeSantis' abortion ban: What's legal and what's illegal in Florida?