Florida’s strictest abortion ban takes effect, prohibiting abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy

Written by on May 1, 2024

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(NEW YORK) — Florida’s law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy took effect on Wednesday, becoming one of the most restrictive states in the country on abortion access.

Florida’s six-week ban replaced the state’s previous 15-week abortion ban, prohibiting the procedure before most women know they are pregnant.

In the South, abortion is now either banned or severely restricted in Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana.

The closest state to Florida with no gestational limits on abortion is Virginia.

On April 1, the Florida State Supreme Court issued a decision to uphold the state’s 15-week abortion ban in response to a legal challenge asking the court to throw out the ban.

The six-week trigger ban signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis went into effect Wednesday, 30 days after the court’s ruling.

The decision came as part of an ongoing lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights and abortion providers against the state, claiming the ban violates the Florida Constitution.

In a separate decision also released on April 1, the Florida Supreme Court decided to allow a ballot initiative that would enshrine abortion rights in the state’s Constitution. The decision will allow voters to determine the future of abortion access in the state in November.

In June 2022, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to abortion that had been the law nationwide for almost 50 years.

Two months before the Supreme Court’s landmark decision, Republican lawmakers in Florida passed a law to halt abortion procedures after 15 weeks, which was previously limited to 24 weeks.

Before Wednesday’s ban, Florida was a key point of access to women across the southeastern U.S. living in states that have ceased nearly all abortion services after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Data gathered by the Guttmacher Institute estimates that there were 4,950 more abortions provided in Florida from January to June 2023, compared to the same period in 2020.

Calculating pregnancy is determined from the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period, according to the American Pregnancy Association, which shortens the time a woman has to determine pregnancy before six weeks.

In addition, Florida requires patients to complete two in-person doctor visits within 24 hours to receive abortion access.

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