Florida’s Republican-led Senate passed a bill on Monday to outlaw most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, bringing the state a step closer to joining others across the U.S. South in banning almost all abortions.
Florida currently has a law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which is being challenged in court. Republicans in the state House of Representatives and Senate filed concurrent bills last month to restrict the procedure further, starting at six weeks of pregnancy.
The Senate approved its bill with a vote of 26-13. The House’s near-identical version of the bill advanced out of committee on Thursday and a floor vote is likely in coming days. Either bill could be approved by the other chamber and sent on to the governor’s desk for signing as soon as this week.
The bills make exceptions for abortions in cases of rape and incest and in cases when the mother’s life or health are at serious risk, not including psychological health.
With Republicans controlling the legislature and governorship in Florida, a six-week ban is likely to become law. Governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to challenge former President Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, has signaled his support.
The fate of the legislation also depends on how the state supreme court rules in a challenge of the 15-week ban. A group of abortion providers has argued it violates the state constitution.
A six-week ban would restrict abortion access across the U.S. South, where most other states have already banned the procedure at early stages of pregnancy. Patients have been traveling to Florida from across the Southeast to end their pregnancies since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, gutting federal abortion rights.
Data from Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration showed that the number of out-of-state abortion patients rose 38% in 2022 compared to 2021.