TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A new bill would make it illegal for doctors in Florida to perform abortions after more than 20 weeks of gestation.
The legislation, which would essentially ban almost all abortions in the state after 20 weeks, would mean that doctors who perform the procedure after that timeframe could be charged with a felony.
But critics of the measure view the legislation as a veiled attempt at outlawing abortions completely.
State Sen. Dennis Baxley, the bill’s sponsor, said the legislation is written that way because that’s when he says a fetus feels pain.
“That’s what the evidence has shown in the pain sensitiveness of unborn children. And it’s perfectly clear that they’re under attack and resisting the attack of the abortionist,” Baxley said.
Under the legislation, doctors who break the law could face a felony and five years in prison. The mother could not be charged.
The only exception to the 20-week ban is the physical health of the mother, though it doesn’t cover mental health.
“Politicians are not medical experts,” said Dian Alarcon with the Latina Institute.
In a Planned Parenthood video conference, mothers who have had abortions called the legislation wrong.
“I had an abortion.,” Dana Pierce said. “This is what it looked like for me. It’s not always right or wrong, black or white.”
Activist Charo Valero said mothers already face big problems getting abortions.
“Including not knowing about it, not having access to services, not being able to travel,” Valero said.
The mothers said after a year of fallout from COVID-19, lawmakers should have better things to do.
“It’s always time to go back and look at your core values, and do you believe you value children? Do you value life?” he said.
Of the 72,000 abortions reported by the state last year, about 6,500 happened during the second trimester.
Opponents believe the legislation violates the second trimester, or 24 weeks, allowed under Roe v. Wade.
Supporters hope to test the law before the U.S. Supreme Court.