Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs legislation Thursday night to ban abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Photo courtesy of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis/Twitter
April 14 (UPI) -- Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law legislation Thursday night to ban abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy, putting Florida among states that have passed strict regulations against the medical procedure following the end of Roe vs. Wade.
The Republican governor, who is expected to run for president in 2024, announced on Twitter he had signed Senate Bill 300 hours after lawmakers in the Florida state House sent it to his desk in a 70-40 vote.
"We are proud to support life and family in the state of Florida," DeSantis said in a statement, while applauding the legislature for passing a bill "that expands pro-life protections and provides additional resources for young mothers and families."
The bill bans abortion after the gestational age of a fetus is determined to be more than six weeks, which is before most women know they are pregnant. Exceptions are in place for pregnancies resulting from rape, incest or human trafficking that require the physician to report the crime to the central abuse hotline.
DeSantis in April of last year signed legislation to lower Florida's abortion limit from 24 weeks to 15 without exceptions. Though in effect, it is being challenged in court by the Center for Reproductive Rights on the grounds that it violates the state's Constitution.
SB 300 states the six-week ban will only go into effect if the Supreme Court of Florida rules in favor of the 15-week prohibition on abortion.
With the passing of the legislation Thursday, Florida becomes the latest Republican-led state to restrict access to abortion following last summer's revocation of federal protections when the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling.
According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, at least 12 states have near-total abortion bans, most of them in the South.
"Florida lawmakers have rushed this dangerous ban through the Legislature with no concern for their citizens and how it will harm them," Elisabeth Smith, director of state policy and advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. "This bill threatens to end abortion almost entirely amid a growing public health crisis.
"If this ban takes effect, Floridians would be stranded in a vast abortion desert and forced to travel over 1,000 miles to get an abortion."
After the Florida House passed the law earlier Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida described the legislation as effectively eliminating legal abortion care in the state.
"In a state that prides itself on being free, this is an unprecedented and unacceptable level of governmental overreach and intrusion," it tweeted.