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Florida House approves a ban on most abortions after 15 weeks

Supporters of abortion access march in front of the Florida Capitol Building on Wednesday. Florida's House passed a bill limiting many abortions in the state.
Mark Wallheiser
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Supporters of abortion access march in front of the Florida Capitol Building on Wednesday. Florida's House passed a bill limiting many abortions in the state.

Florida is preparing to pass a ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, including in cases of incest or rape.

The state appears poised to join others, including Texas, with ultra restrictive abortion laws as the U.S. Supreme Court considers the future of Roe v. Wade.

Similar abortion measures also passed this week in West Virginia's House and the Arizona Senate. The law in Florida is modeled after a Mississippi abortion law that is now being considered by the Supreme Court — their decision could affect abortion access nationwide.

NPR's Greg Allen joined Morning Edition with the latest on how the bill would affect Floridians. Listen here.

The bill that passed Florida's House this week on a mostly party-line vote includes narrow exceptions for fetal abnormalities and to protect the life of the pregnant person. Like Mississippi's law, Florida's bill doesn't include exceptions for rape or incest. Only about 3.5 percent of abortions in Florida happen after 15 weeks, but that means thousands of pregnancies, Allen reports.

Florida currently allows abortions until 24 weeks of pregnancy, but if the bill becomes law, that limit would drop to 15 for most abortions.

Dr. Samantha Deans, an associate medical director with Planned Parenthood in Florida, says most fetal anomalies aren't detected by 15 weeks.

"You cannot perform an amniocentesis until the second trimester and generally speaking, we don't perform an amniocentesis until 16 to 20 weeks," Deans says. "That's just a medical fact."

Under the bill, if a fetal abnormality is discovered after 15 weeks, two doctors would need to certify the baby wouldn't survive long after birth before an abortion would be allowed.

Supporters of the bill concede it runs counter to the protections enshrined in Roe v. Wade, but say that by passing this law, Florida would be ready if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, reports Allen.

Next, the bill moves to Florida's Senate, where it is expected to pass before it moves on to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' desk.


This story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Nell Clark is an editor at Morning Edition and a writer for NPR's Live Blog. She pitches stories, edits interviews and reports breaking news. She started in radio at campus station WVFS at Florida State University, then covered climate change and the aftermath of Hurricane Michael for WFSU in Tallahassee, Fla. She joined NPR in 2019 as an intern at Weekend All Things Considered. She is proud to be a member of NPR's Peer-to-Peer Trauma Support Team, a network of staff trained to support colleagues dealing with trauma at work. Before NPR, she worked as a counselor at a sailing summer camp and as a researcher in a deep-sea genetics lab.