Florida Republicans in both the state House and Senate have introduced legislation that would ban abortion after six weeks into a pregnancy, a time when many people don’t yet know they are pregnant.
The bill was filed on the first day of the legislative session, just minutes before Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) gave his state of the state address.
It includes limited exceptions if the person obtaining the abortion is a victim of rape or incest. But the exception would only be allowed up until 15 weeks of pregnancy. The person would also need to prove they are a victim by providing “a copy of a restraining order, police report, medical record, or other court order or documentation.”
The bill would also require medical abortion pills to be dispensed in person by a physician, and would ban abortion care by telehealth, including mailing abortion medication.
Health care providers who violate the ban could be charged with a third-degree felony, which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.
DeSantis is widely expected to use his second term as governor as a springboard to launch a presidential campaign, and the policies he endorses as governor will be seen as a preview for the platform he would run on.
While he has so far sidestepped questions about stricter laws, DeSantis has faced criticism from anti-abortion groups and other Republicans for not going far enough with the state’s abortion laws.
DeSantis last year signed a law banning abortion after 15 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest.
The bill was immediately slammed by state and national Democrats, who are looking to make abortion a major pillar of the 2024 presidential campaign.
“DeSantis has made it clear his only focus is on imposing a MAGA agenda that hurts more and more Floridians every day. This new more extreme abortion ban he called for will only make it harder for Florida’s women and girls to seek the care that they need,” state Democratic Party Chairwoman Nikki Fried said in a statement.