Pregnant people in Florida must show ‘proof’ of rape or incest for abortion under extreme law 

Florida governor Ron DeSantis

Victims of rape and incest would have to show ‘proof’ of their abuse to get an abortion in Florida, under the state’s extreme new ban after six weeks of pregnancy.

On Thursday 13 April, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed the Heartbeat Protection Act, a bill which outlaws abortions in the state after six-weeks of pregnancy. 

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

“I applaud the legislature for passing the Heartbeat Protection Act that expands pro-life protections and provides additional resources for young mothers and families.”

Florida currently has a 15-week limit for abortions, also signed by DeSantis last year, which is being challenged in the state’s Supreme Court. 

If the 15-week limit is upheld, the newly-signed six-week ban would come into effect. 

You may like to watch

The legislation – which was passed by Florida’s majority Republican legislature – does have exemptions for victims of rape, incest and human trafficking, or if the pregnancy poses a life-risk. 

However, documentation shows survivors would have to ‘prove’ these horrific incidents were the cause of the pregnancy they wish to terminate. 

Such evidence can include medical records, police reports and court-issued restraining orders. 

‘Four million women would be denied abortion care’

It has been widely noted that if the six-week ban goes ahead, it will give DeSantis a strong conservative-backed platform from which to launch his 2024 presidential campaign. 

The Republican favourite has put himself, and Florida, front and centre of the US culture wars. In recent months, he has enacted several bills which seek to clamp down on LGBTQ+ rights, soften gun safety laws and attack immigrant communities. 

On the same day the abortion ban was signed, Equality Florida issued a travel advisory for LGBTQ+ people which warned them of the safety risks posed when visiting the state.

The Heartbeat Protection Act was quickly slammed by politicians, pro-choice groups and the White House. 

In a statement, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre condemned the bill: “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.”

‘Dangerous, plain and simple’

Pro-choice group NARAL Pro-Choice America described the passage and signing of the bill as “dangerous, plain and simple”. 

The group’s president, Mini Timmaraju, said: “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.”

Please login or register to comment on this story.