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Governor Ron DeSantis signs Florida's 15-week abortion ban into law. Alamy Stock Photo
abortion laws

Florida becomes latest US state to restrict abortion access

The new law, which comes into force on 1 July, reduces the abortion limit from 24 to 15 weeks.

FLORIDA HAS SIGNED into law a 15-week abortion ban, becoming the latest US state to further restrict reproductive rights in a nationwide push by conservatives.

Tighter restrictions in states including Texas and Idaho come as the Supreme Court looks poised to re-examine the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that cemented a woman’s right to abortion.

The court is now dominated by conservatives following the nomination of three justices by former president Donald Trump.

“We are here today to defend those who can’t defend themselves,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said as he signed the law which reduced the abortion limit from 24 to 15 weeks.

“This will represent the most significant protection for life that’s been enacted in this state in a generation,” DeSantis, a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2024, added.

Right-wing politicians have launched an assault on abortion, with Democrats, led by President Joe Biden, fighting back to protect access to the procedure.

The Florida law, which comes into force on 1 July, includes exemptions if the mother’s life is at risk or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality, but not in cases of rape, incest or human trafficking.

“This abortion ban is an attack on our most fundamental freedoms — the right to control our own bodies, our own futures,” said Stephanie Fraim of Planned Parenthood.

A recent bill passed in Idaho allows families of women who have had abortions – and the father of the fetus – to sue providers, taking enforcement out of the hands of the state, in a move modeled on a controversial new Texas law.

Other bills are in the works in Missouri, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, with California, Washington state and Vermont taking an opposing stance and promoting pro-choice abortion rights.

Earlier this week, a Texas prosecutor dropped charges against a woman who had been arrested days earlier for having an abortion, in a case that has drawn national indignation.

Lizelle Herrera (26) was arrested on 7 April, for “intentionally and knowingly [causing] the death of an individual by self-induced abortion,” according to police in the southern US state.

She was later released on a $500,000 (€460,280) bond before a Texas district attorney finally moved to drop the charges.

“In reviewing applicable Texas law, it is clear that Ms. Herrera cannot and should not be prosecuted for the allegation against her,” prosecutor Gocha Allen Ramirez said in a statement.

Nevertheless, Ramirez said, local law enforcement was justified in investigating the case after a hospital reported Herrera.

“To ignore the incident would have been a dereliction of their duty,” he said.

It is not clear whether a Texas law passed in September banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy was originally considered as the basis for Herrera’s arrest.

© AFP 2022

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