The Florida Senate passed a historic pro-life bill Thursday to protect unborn babies by banning abortions after 15 weeks.
CNN reports the state Senate voted 23-15 along party lines to give final approval of the Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act (House Bill 5). It now goes to Gov. Ron DeSantis, a pro-life Republican, for his signature.
“I never dreamed I’d be standing here today, but actually being able to save the life of babies,” said state Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, according to Politico. “God is so good.”
The legislation, which would go into effect July 1, bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions if the mother’s life is at risk or the unborn baby has a fatal disorder. It also includes measures to reduce infant mortality and a requirement that abortion facilities report suspected human trafficking cases to the state.
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Democrat lawmakers and pro-abortion groups slammed the bill as “cruel” and “a direct assault on the people of Florida and our constitutional rights,” according to the report. But the bill would protect unborn babies’ right to life at a point when most other countries across the world already do.
Currently, abortions are legal up to 24 weeks in Florida.
Andrew Shirvell, founder and executive director of Florida Voice for the Unborn, said he hopes the historic vote will come to represent the beginning of the end of all abortions in Florida.
“Florida Voice for the Unborn hails the historic nature of the 15-week abortion ban,” Shirvell said. “It represents the most vigorous protections for Florida’s unborn children that have ever been passed in the Florida Legislature since the U.S. Supreme Court imposed Roe v. Wade on our nation in early 1973.”
He estimated the bill will save up to 5,000 unborn babies from brutal, late-term abortions every year.
Most countries in the world prohibit or strictly limit abortions after 15 weeks, including most European countries. The United States is one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions up to birth. Polls consistently show a strong majority of Americans support legal protections for unborn babies, especially after the first trimester.
Senate President Wilton Simpson, who was adopted and grew up with foster siblings, said they chose the 15-week point because of the likelihood that it will be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and save lives, Politico continues.
“Every abortion kills a special and unique human being who deserves protection under the laws of this state and the chance to grow up in a loving family,” Simpson said, according to Florida Politics. “… Floridians can be proud that we live in a state that not only protects innocent, unborn life, but also supports children and parents.”
Currently, Roe v. Wade forces states to legalize the killing of unborn babies in abortions up to viability. However, the Supreme Court is considering a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi, and a ruling is expected this summer. Because of the conservative majority on the high court, many hope the justices will uphold the law and allow states to protect unborn babies again.
Meanwhile, Florida abortion groups already are making plans to challenge the pro-life bill in court. According to the Sun Sentinel:
If the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, advocates could still challenge Florida’s 15-week ban or other bans on the basis that these restrictions violate Florida’s state constitution and the right to privacy in medical decisions, said Kait Thomson, director of government relations and community engagement at Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.
Planned Parenthood leaders bashed the 15-week ban as “cruel” and “dangerous,” but the opposite is true. The bill would save thousands of unborn babies every year from unnecessary and brutal abortion deaths. In the second trimester, the most common abortion method is a D&E, or dismemberment abortion, in which the unborn baby is torn limb from limb while their heart is still beating.
Christie Arnold, of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, said abortions cause grave harm to babies and mothers.
“While we continue to look forward to the day when the full protection of unborn life is recognized in law, we are encouraged that HB 5 further limits the grave harm that abortion inflicts upon women and children,” Arnold said after the vote.
DeSantis is expected to sign the bill. He recently “welcomed” pro-life legislation.
In January, Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis also spoke up in support of protections for unborn babies.
“On this National Sanctity of Human Life Day, we are reminded that life is incredibly precious and sacred,” she wrote on Twitter. “And in Florida, @RonDeSantisFL will never stop fighting for the lives of the unborn and giving a voice to the voiceless.”