President Biden says he opposes a high-profile Florida bill that would prohibit late-term abortions after 15 weeks and ban a procedure pro-lifers call “barbaric.”
The bill, HB 5, is modeled after a similar law in Mississippi and bans abortions “if the physician determines the gestational age of the fetus is more than 15 weeks.” It passed the Florida House and Senate and is headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who says he will sign it.
The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a challenge to Mississippi’s law. A decision in that case is expected by July.
“The Republican-controlled Florida legislature passed a dangerous bill that will severely restrict women’s access to reproductive health care,” Biden said in a tweet. “My Administration will not stand for the continued erosion of women’s constitutional rights.”
Last night, the Republican-controlled Florida legislature passed a dangerous bill that will severely restrict women’s access to reproductive health care. My Administration will not stand for the continued erosion of women’s constitutional rights.— President Biden (@POTUS) March 4, 2022
Vice President Kamala Harris also criticized the bill, saying in a statement, “The right of women to make decisions about their own bodies is non-negotiable.”
A study last year by the Charlotte Lozier Institute found that 47 European countries have restrictions that are similar or more restrictive than Mississippi’s law. All total, 39 European countries limit elective abortion to 15 weeks or earlier in the pregnancy, while eight European countries do not allow elective abortion, the study found.
Supporters of the Florida bill say it is a common-sense restriction. When Mississippi passed its law, the state legislature released findings asserting that abortions after 15 weeks mostly involve the “use of surgical instruments to crush and tear the unborn child apart.” Such an abortion is called a dilation and evacuation abortion in the medical realm. The Mississippi legislature labeled it a “barbaric practice” that is “dangerous for the maternal patient” and “demeaning to the medical profession.”
Florida pro-lifers made similar arguments.
“We have a duty to protect life. This bill safeguards innocent, unborn children with beating hearts, who can move, taste, see, and feel pain,” said Florida state Sen. Kelli Stargel, who supported the bill. “In the half-century since the Roe v. Wade decision, science has shown us that an unborn baby rapidly develops the functions and form of a child long before viability.”
Lynda Bell, president of Florida Right to Life, applauded the legislature for passing the bill.
“Floridians want barbaric late-term abortions stopped in Florida,” Bell said.
The Florida bill includes exceptions for abortions to save the woman’s life or to “avert a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function” other than a psychological condition. Any exception must be certified in writing by two physicians.
The bill is in line with other laws in Europe.
“No European country allows elective abortion through all nine months of pregnancy as is permitted in the United States, where Supreme Court precedent only allows states to regulate it after viability,” Angelina B. Nguyen, an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, wrote in the aforementioned study.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.