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Florida’s Anti-Abortion Bill: Is It Unconstitutional?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

Last month, Florida’s House of Representatives passed a bill to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Let’s talk about it.

This new bill may concern you if you’re a person with a uterus. Abortion is currently legal in Florida up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, or until five and a half months. House Bill 5 sets the limitations at 15 or more weeks after the last menstrual period, which is a significantly shorter time frame to figure out if you’re pregnant and what you’re going to do with the news. 

The moral, legal and religious status of abortion has been an ongoing debate for the past several decades. In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that a pregnant woman’s liberty to abortion is protected under the Constitution in the influential court case Roe v. Wade. Anti-choice laws such as Florida’s latest bill seem to question the landmark decision regarding the constitutionality of abortion. After all, dictating when someone can get an abortion constitutes excessive government regulation of people’s bodies and health. 

Several restrictions are already in place to discourage individuals from seeking an abortion in Florida. For example, a patient must receive state-directed counseling and an ultrasound before an abortion. If the patient is a minor, their parents must be notified and consent to the procedure. Not to mention that the cost of getting an abortion isn’t covered under state health plans or public funding unless it’s an extreme circumstance. 

Florida’s anti-abortion bill has only two exceptions: when the mother is at risk of death or “irreversible physical impairment” or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. In that case, the mother would need to be seen and have two doctors sign off on the abortion. The proposed bill doesn’t exempt victims of rape, incest or human trafficking from the 15-week rule. 

HB 5 will go into effect on July 15, 2022, if it passes the Senate and is signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Senate is currently voting on the anti-abortion bill, and there’s no time to waste. As of March 2, the Senate has failed to pass several amendments to the restrictive bill. Although the bill hasn’t yet reached the Governor’s desk, DeSantis has voiced his support of the enactment: “I’m supportive of 15 weeks. I think that’s very reasonable, and I think that’s consistent with being supportive of protecting life.” 

There’s a chance that the 15-week abortion limit will come to pass. As a young woman and college student, I fear that this bill will negatively affect my friends and peers. College is stressful enough without having to worry about whether or not your period is late or just hasn’t come yet, especially if you’re used to having an irregular cycle. I can’t imagine dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and having no choice but to carry the baby to term just because a man had the final say about my body. 

Your voice matters — use it. To contact Florida lawmakers and urge them to oppose HB 5, click here.

Brie (she/her) is a senior at the University of Central Florida studying literature, digital humanities and editing & publishing. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, singing in the shower and taking care of her houseplants.