On Apr. 13, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis decided to take inspiration from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who implemented one of the strictest bans on abortion nationwide, by signing his own six-week abortion into law. DeSantis signed the bill a few hours after the Legislature passed it that afternoon—however, he didn’t announce that he did so until after 11 p.m. For those who experience rape or incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger, the abortion period is lengthened to 15 weeks provided that the mother can provide proper documentation such as a restraining order or police report.
After Roe v. Wade was overturned in the summer of 2022, the power was given to the states to regulate and restrict abortion. It didn’t take long for states to pass their own specific bans on the procedure. Florida originally signed a bill that restricted abortion after the 15th week of being pregnant; however, similar to Texas and other red states, Florida has moved on to shortening that time period to six weeks. However, this legislation will only take effect if the previous 15-week ban maintains its legality, which is being questioned by the state Supreme Court.
The law contains some exceptions that allow for the abortion period to remain at 15 weeks, such as if the woman’s life was in danger while in situations of rape or incest. However, a woman must have documentation of the event in order to receive the termination service. The justification for this time period is due to the fact that six weeks is when an embryo experiences cardiac activity, commonly referred to as a “heartbeat,” which can be a potentially misleading term.
At the six-week time period, a heart is not yet in existence. Another misleading phrase that those who refer to themselves as “pro-lifers” tend to use is the term “fetus” in order to refer to the fertilized egg at six weeks. In reality, an embryo does not become a fetus until around 10 weeks of pregnancy.
At six weeks, an embryo is approximately six millimeters long—about the size and shape of a baked bean. The embryo develops a single tube that generates sporadic electrical pulses that many mistake for a “heartbeat.”
Additionally, most women don’t realize they are pregnant at six weeks due to irregular periods and the fact that the hormones that trigger a pregnancy test are not apparent until approximately three weeks after conception. This allows a woman three weeks to schedule an abortion.
However, Florida law requires that a woman must attend two separate appointments at least 24 hours apart before she is allowed to follow through with the abortion procedure. This restriction experienced a seven year-long battle before finally being signed into law in 2022 by a Leon County circuit judge.
The options for pregnant minors are even more limited. Minors must have their parent or guardian’s consent. In certain situations, a judge can approve a minor’s abortion without parental consent; however, the parents must be notified about the procedure. Keep in mind, this all has to take place within the six-week time period.
Medication-induced abortions make up the majority of national abortions—the drugs used in this procedure would only be dispensed in-person by a physician under Florida law. However, the abortion pill containing mifepristone was recently challenged by a federal judge in Texas who suspended the pill, ruling in favor of Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian advocacy group who claimed mifepristone to be unsafe and that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) didn’t test the drug enough before releasing it to the public.
The case was taken to the Court of Appeals who paused the ruling, allowing the drug to maintain its place on the market. However, the pill will contain restrictions: mifepristone will only be available up until seven weeks of pregnancy rather than 10. This case is currently on its way to the Supreme Court and has the possibility of being overturned.