DeSantis ‘ready to sign’ legislation that would further restrict abortion access

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — Talk of further abortion restrictions is swirling amid a recent push for the legislation from Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Currently Florida law bans the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy with few exceptions, but this could change as lawmakers consider stricter abortion bans.

Legislative leaders the governor all sound like they’re on board for furthering abortion restrictions next year, beyond 15 weeks. Yet no one is certain if that will happen.

DeSantis says he’s eager to expand Florida’s abortion restrictions, but avoided giving specifics for what he supported.

“I’m willing to sign great life legislation,” DeSantis said.

Florida law bans the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy with few exceptions, but lawmakers have indicated they’ll move to add further restrictions in the March legislative session.

“We have pro-life majorities in both chambers,” Florida House Speaker Paul Renner (R-Flagler) said. “I can guarantee you that members on both sides have very different opinions about what it means to be pro-life.”

Lawmakers are widely expected to shorten the 15 week ban to anywhere from 12 to six weeks.

Right now the legal battle over 2022’s House Bill 5’s constitutionality is playing out in court, but a date for oral arguments has not yet been set.

“If the supreme court upholds it then i know there will be a myriad number of bills filed to reduce the 15 weeks to something less than that,” Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) said.

Passidomo said she would like to see expansions, but only if exceptions that were left out of HB 5 were included.

“I felt we should have included an exception for rape and incest in the 15 week bill that we passed,” Passidomo said. 

Florida’s House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa) said any changes to the law could cause negative feedback.

“If Republicans were to pass this legislation it’s just the type of overreach that could turn an election in the future,” Driskell said. “Because the people of Florida do not want them to cross this line.”

Renner says he’s willing to call special sessions on issues of great importance, whether that includes abortion will be something to watch for. At the very least, lawmakers will offer legislation during the regular session which begins in March.

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