Florida abortion clinics prepare for change after proposed 6-week ban
Florida GOP lawmakers filed a bill Tuesday that would ban abortions after six weeks. Florida Planned Parenthood centers are preparing for the new legal landscape as clinics face mounting pressure.
Florida clinics are facing multiple pressure points with abortion medication possibly being outlawed by a Texas judge and now a proposed bill that would ban abortions beyond six weeks of gestation. The bill does include exceptions for rape and incest up to 15 weeks as well as medical emergencies.
The legislation would expand on a 15-week ban passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis last year. DeSantis briefly discussed the proposed bill during his state of the state address.
"I think those exceptions are sensible, and we welcome pro-life legislation," DeSantis said.
Florida clinics respond
In response, Planned Parenthood said it is opposed to such legislation and should the bill pass the organization plans on helping people in any way it can in the scope of the law, said CEO Stephanie Fraim.
“If you're past six weeks, you can come to us and we'll use one of our many patient navigators to get you to a state where you can get that care because you deserve the care that you and your family need,” she said. “We're seeing the next person who walks through our doors and saying, 'how can we help you?' And we're delivering to them quality care. We have always abided by the law. And we will continue to do so even when those laws are wrong."
Should it become law, the six-week ban would take effect 30 days after the Florida Supreme Court weighs in on whether there is a right to an abortion within the state constitution.
State data shows Florida abortion clinics saw a 38% increase in out-of-state patients after the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus. Wade last summer.
Putting more pressure on clinics is the looming decision of a federal judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk, who will be making a ruling on a lawsuit filed in November. The suit alleges that the drug, mifepristone, is not safe for use in medication abortion.
The decision will be made in Texas but could have larger implications for the nation.
If Kacsmaryk rules against mifepristone, then Florida clinics will no longer be able to treat patients with the noninvasive procedure, Jay Wolfson, a health law professor at the University of South Florida, told WMFE earlier this year.
“If the drug is not available, then they may also have to increase the availability of surgical abortions and that's going to be expensive, require staffing, and require space, you require a supporting desk,” he said. “If this drug or this portion of the drug regime is removed, then our facilities in Florida are going to find themselves overcrowded. And as many people already starting to do, they are trying to make space for more surgical abortions.”
It is unclear when Kacsmaryk will make a ruling.