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Florida's 6-week abortion ban ready for Senate floor vote

'We’re taking away free will,' Sen. Geraldine Thompson says
Posted at 7:38 PM, Mar 28, 2023

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's six-week abortion ban is now ready for a floor vote in the state Senate, which is expected next week.

It comes after a marathon committee meeting in Tallahassee Tuesday. For about four hours, public speaker after speaker offered tears and fears supporting and challenging the proposed change to the state's current 15-week ban.

If signed by the governor, SB 300 would cut abortion access in Florida to six weeks with exceptions for rape, incest and fatal fetal conditions. Six weeks is before many know they're pregnant — but around the time cardiac activity is detected.

"We are here to have the conversation about what Florida wants to stand for," Sen. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, who is sponsoring the bill, said. "Does Florida want to promote a culture of life — where all life is important?"

Democrats are fiercely divided on the issue. Many considered the bill tantamount to a total ban. They worried some, especially low-income and minority Floridians, would turn to unsafe methods if abortion access is cut.

"We're taking away free will," Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, said. "We're taking away choice. That's what this comes down to."

The latest Senate schedule has SB 300 getting taken up for discussion and amendments on Thursday. Members expect to vote on the policy next week. The House version of the bill still has one committee stop before reaching the floor.

If both chambers pass the same version of the bill, it would head to Gov. Ron DeSantis' desk. He has said repeatedly he "welcomes pro-life legislation."

The bill would still be contingent on a ruling by the Florida Supreme Court to take effect. Justices are expected to consider the current 15-week ban in the near future. If they toss the law, passed last year, due to state privacy protections, the six-week ban would fail as well.