Q&A – How Prolife is Florida After the Newly Signed Heartbeat Law?

Q&A of the Day – How Prolife is Florida After the Newly Signed Heartbeat Law? 

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.   

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com  

Social: @brianmuddradio 

iHeartRadio: Use the Talkback feature – the microphone button on our station’s page in the iHeart app.    

Today’s Entry: @brianmuddradio. Where does Florida rank among states with new abortion law?  

Bottom Line: Abortion policy within states has been a fluid topic for sure since last year’s Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade throwing the abortion issue back to the states to decide what policy will be in each state. That had enormous and immediate impacts for states which had pre-Roe abortion laws on the books which suddenly became the policy within their states. And it’s sent states setting policies in both directions. States like Virginia, California, Colorado and most recently Michigan have enacted policies in which there aren’t effectively any restrictions on abortions, meaning they’re far more liberal in the ending of a pregnancy than the Roe standard. And of course, we’ve seen states like Florida heading in the other direction, limiting abortions earlier on than the Roe standard.  

Last Thursday Governor DeSantis wasted no time in signing the Heartbeat Protection Act into law. Just hours after the Legislature passed the bill limiting abortions to six weeks in Florida, Governor DeSantis signed the bill into law. The law allows for exceptions for rape, incest, human trafficking and life-threatening conditions for the mother. There were changes to the legislation late in the process and so here’s the official summary of Florida’s new law: 

  • Citing this act as the “Heartbeat Protection Act”; requiring the Department of Health to contract for the management and delivery of parenting support services, in addition to pregnancy support services; prohibiting physicians from knowingly performing or inducing a termination of pregnancy after the gestational age of the fetus is determined to be more than 6 weeks, rather than 15 weeks, with exceptions; providing an exception if the woman obtaining the abortion is doing so because she is a victim of rape, incest, or human trafficking, subject to certain conditions; requiring that medications intended for use in a medical abortion be dispensed in person by a physician. 

One of the nuances to the new law is the mandate that abortion pills be obtained in person as opposed to through the mail as the federal government enabled in January. Many states with abortion policy preceding January don’t have policies specific to abortion pills. Currently 44 states have restrictions on abortions, 13 of which have essentially banned the practice except in the case of rape, incest or a life-threatening circumstance for the mother. The next tier of states have laws which kick in at six weeks. It’s not a coincidence, that’s the earliest timeline under which a heartbeat has been detected for a baby in the womb. Hense the name of these reforms which have commonly been called “heartbeat” laws as is the case with Florida’s new law.  

Florida’s new law places the state in the second tier from a prolife perspective. Florida is the seventh state to impose a six-week limit on abortions, and with the policy in place pertaining to abortion pills, places Florida at the top of that grouping of states in terms of restrictions. That means Florida is 14th nationally in abortion policy from a prolife perspective. There is an important asterisk to this conversation. As has been the norm in states which have limited abortions post-the Roe ruling, legal challenges aplenty have been filed.  

Florida’s law from last year, limiting abortions at 15-weeks is currently before Florida’s Supreme Court. The ruling in that case has implications for Florida’s new law as it builds upon the existing policy. As a result, the new six-week limit isn’t in currently place. If the Court were to rule against last year’s law, the new law would be moot. If the Court sides with the state on last year’s law, while the new one would likely face its own legal challenges, it would take effect 30 days after the ruling upholding last year’s law. So, for the moment, the official policy in Florida remains the 15-week limit with few expectations. So now we watch, wait and see what Florida’s Supreme Court has to say about all of this... 

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