Q&A – The Potential Impact of Banning Abortions in Florida After 15 Weeks

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Q&A – The Potential Impact of Banning Abortions in Florida After 15 Weeks

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

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

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Today’s entry: @brianmuddradio How many abortions would be impacted by proposed FL abortion ban? You discussed national #’s during Miss SCOTUS case.

Bottom Line: With the Mississippi law which blocks abortions after 15 weeks currently being considered before the Supreme Court, a similar bill has been proposed in Florida’s current legislative session. Importantly, if it’s to stand a chance of passing in this year’s state session, it needed to be proposed in both chambers. That’s happened. Senator Kelli Stargel has sponsored it in Florida’s Senate and Erin Grall is sponsoring the House bill. With only about 5% of bills ever passing Florida’s state sessions, the greatest tell as to if legislation has a real chance of getting anywhere is if it starts with companion legislation in both chambers. Check. The next most important indication is whether the Governor is onboard. That’s proved especially true during Governor DeSantis’ time as governor as he’s regularly driven the agenda. Quoting Governor DeSantis when asked about the proposed legislation on Tuesday: There’s a lot of pro-life legislation. We’re going to be welcoming it. I haven’t looked at every single bill. I think if you look at what’s been done in some of these other states – I mean when you start talking about 15 weeks where you have really serious pain and heartbeats and all this stuff – having protections I think is something that makes a lot of sense. Check. The Gov’s onboard. All the pieces are in place for this legislation to potentially become law in Florida this year.

Many may not realize it but new laws regulating abortion have already been signed into law in recent years in Florida. Here are Florida’s current regs regarding abortions via the Guttmacher Institute:

  • A patient must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage the patient from having an abortion.
  • Health plans offered in the state’s health exchange under the Affordable Care Act can only cover abortion in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest, unless individuals purchase an optional rider at an additional cost.
  • The parent of a minor must be notified and consent before an abortion is provided.
  • Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
  • A patient must undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion; the provider must offer the patient the option to view the image.
  • An abortion may be performed at 24 or more weeks after the last menstrual period only in cases of life or health endangerment.

Should the bills pass as currently proposed the existing provisions of Florida law would remain with the timeline being dropped from 24 to 15 weeks. Now, to address your question as to what the impact would be should this become law...

Here’s the national summation I brought you during the SCOTUS hearing on Mississippi's law: Based on the CDC’s data of the voluntarily reporting states, only 4.7% of abortions happen after week 15. I’d imagine most people would be somewhat surprised by how low that number is given the extent of the blowback against it. Even if the US Supreme Court were to uphold Mississippi’s law or perhaps even redefine the standard of “acceptable” abortions nationally to 15 weeks from the current 24 weeks, approximately 95% of abortions would still occur as they do now, and it’d still far and away be the leading cause of death if fetuses were viewed as lives.

The most recent annual data from the Guttmacher Institute showed an estimated 71,050 abortions occurred in Florida. Were the new bill to become law, only approximately 3,339 abortions performed would have been blocked if the proposed legislation had already been in force. Beyond the outcome of the bills during this state session, the major wildcard remains the Supreme Court and how they rule in that Mississippi case. If the court were to strike down Mississippi’s law – it effectively would strike down Florida’s as well if passed. If upheld, it’d effectively uphold Florida’s. Some might wonder why Florida wouldn’t wait until the SCOTUS ruling to consider similar legislation, this year’s state session will end well in advance of the Supreme’s Court expected timeline for a ruling and next year’s state session doesn’t convene until March. That’s a difference of a potential 3,900 lives saved by acting now from the perspective of those advancing this legislation.

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