Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law Thursday that bans most abortions after 15 weeks.
Appearing at an event at a church in Kissimmee, DeSantis signed House Bill 5, known as Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality.
"We are here today to defend those who can't defend themselves," DeSantis said. "This will represent the most significant protections for life that have been enacted in this state in a generation."
The bill, which will take effect July 1, contains exceptions if the abortion is necessary to save a mother’s life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow for exemptions in cases where pregnancies were caused by rape, incest or human trafficking. Under current law, Florida allows abortions up to 24 weeks.
The bill signing comes ahead of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could limit abortion access nationwide.
Republicans in several states have moved to place new restrictions on abortion after the conservative Supreme Court signaled it would uphold a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks. The court's decision, expected this summer, could potentially weaken or overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that declared a nationwide right to abortion.
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Critics said the bill signing will mark a significant blow to abortion access in the South, where Florida has provided wider access to the procedure than its regional neighbors.
“This 15-week abortion ban takes away every woman’s right to make personal decisions that should only be made by themselves, with their family, their doctor, and their faith," Florida House Democratic Caucus leader Evan Jenne, of Hollywood, said in a statement. "Not only is this unconstitutional and infringes on personal freedom, it also isn’t our place as elected officials to mandate choices women must make about their health. This new law is gross government overreach dictating the choices and free will of Floridians."
Earlier this week, a Florida judge ruled that women will have to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion.
Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey in Tallahassee tossed out a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Gainesville women's clinic, saying other medical procedures have similar waiting periods and other important decisions like getting married, getting divorced and buying a gun have longer waiting periods.