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Florida’s six-week abortion ban comes into effect

  • May 1, 2024
  • 2 min read
Florida’s six-week abortion ban comes into effect

Florida’s six-week ban on abortion has come into effect, effectively closing down the last place in the American south for abortion access. Anti-abortion campaigners hailed the new law which replaces the existing 15-week law, seeing it as a gold standard of abortion policy and a victory in the nation’s debate over the issue.

But pro-choice campaigners fear that this ban would push an already overstretched system to its limits. The new law, they fear, will cut off abortion access for over 21 million Americans across nearly a dozen states. Florida is the only state in the region without a near-total ban.  

“This essentially creates an abortion desert in the south-east part of our country,” said spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida, Michelle Quesada. “This will be devastating.”

But this could be undone as soon as November as Florida votes on Amendment 4 which  could protect abortion until 24 weeks of pregnancy, the same as in Britain. Both the new ban and the upcoming vote have created a high-stakes battle for abortion in the state, possibly the biggest since the American Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, ending the right across the nation to an abortion.

Following the landmark ruling in June 2022, many states moved to restrict abortion, either at six weeks gestation or an outright ban. Six weeks is a time when many do not yet know that they are pregnant. Florida had been an exception, abortion there being legal until 15 weeks. This made it a haven for anyone seeking an abortion in the region.

After Roe v Wade was overturned, the ‘Sunshine state’ became “one of the main points of access for abortion care within the formal healthcare system in the south,” according to Isaac Maddow-Zimet, a data scientist at the pro-choice research group the Guttmacher Institute.

More than 84,000 abortions took place there in 2023, a 12% jump from 2020. Over half of that increase is thought to be from out-of-state patients, as many as 9,000 in 2023 alone.

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