Ron DeSantis signs extreme Florida abortion bill banning terminations after just six weeks

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill into law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. 

The Republican – a possible contender for the presidential race in 2024 – has become well-known for his extreme conservative views and for fanning culture wars. 

The Sunshine State is now at the forefront of America’s wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and attacks on other civil rights. 

On Thursday (13 April), the Republican-dominated legislature approved the ban – known as the Heartbeat Protection Act – and DeSantis subsequently signed it.

However, the state supreme court would be required to overturn Florida’s current abortion limit – 15 weeks – before the new law can come into force. 

If the six-week ban does go ahead, it could give DeSantis a platform from which to launch his presidential campaign. 

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“We are proud to support life and family in the state of Florida,” the controversial governor said in a statement. 

The ban comes just a day after Equality Florida issued an unprecedented travel advisory to people planning to visit the state, citing the health, safety and freedom risks now posed – particularly to LGBTQ+ people. 

The advice outlines Florida’s targeted attacks on LGBTQ+ people as well as the repealing of gun-safety laws, and attacks on immigrant communities. 

“Taken in their totality, Florida’s slate of laws and policies, targeting basic freedoms and rights, pose a serious risk to the health and safety of those travelling to the state,” the advisory stated. 

Democrats and pro-choice groups were quick to slam the new legislation. 

Anna Eskamani, a Democrat who supports abortion rights, called Ron DeSantis’ signing of the bill “behind closed doors and near midnight” a “sick and sad attempt” to avoid public backlash. 

“This is a devastating day for Floridians and especially for Florida’s women. We will and must fight back, not just for ourselves but for the rights of future generations to come,” she said in a statement. 

Writing on Twitter, Floridians for Reproductive Freedom said they were disappointed but not surprised by the result of the vote. 

“Thank you to those who voted no, and to those who voted yes: we will not forget,” the group said. 

NARAL Pro-Choice America also condemned the move. The group’s president, Mini Timmaraju, said: “This ban is dangerous, plain and simple. It will not only cut off abortion access for Floridians but [also for] the countless people who have sought care there as extremists in their own states enforce bans.

“Ron DeSantis talks about the ‘Free State of Florida,’ but it’s clear [he’s] selling out our freedoms for his own personal ambition, stooping to new lows to win the 2024 GOP primary.

“He should have listened in November when voters made it clear they don’t support abortion bans – he can count on hearing it again when he’s on the ballot next.”

In a statement responding to the bill being passed, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: “This ban would prevent four million Florida women of reproductive age from accessing abortion care after six weeks – before many women even know they’re pregnant. 

“This ban would also impact the nearly 15 million women of reproductive age who live in abortion-banning states throughout the South, many of whom have previously relied on travel to Florida as an option to access care.”

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