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Florida's 6-week abortion ban will have nationwide impact, critics warn

Caroline Catherman, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in Political News

Abortion-rights advocates are predicting a national fallout from the Florida Supreme Court’s decision Monday to allow a six-week abortion ban to take effect on May 1.

The law will shutter clinics, limit abortions performed here each year, delay care and send thousands of people across state lines to terminate their pregnancies, they said Tuesday.

“(This ban) will affect the entire country,” said Megan Jeyifo from the Chicago Abortion Fund, who added that Florida’s six-week cutoff is “essentially an all-out ban.”

Many low-income women can’t afford travel, prompting them to carry pregnancies to term or take abortion pills at home past six weeks, prescribed via telehealth by doctors from other states.

Six weeks of gestation is just two weeks after a pregnant woman misses her first period, before most women know they are pregnant. Florida also still requires two in-person visits at least 24 hours apart before someone can get an abortion.

“It will make it virtually impossible” to get an abortion, said Kara Gross, Legislative Director and Senior Policy Counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

 

The court also gave the OK for Florida residents to vote on whether to undo the six-week ban in November, through a ballot initiative that aims to put abortion rights into the state’s constitution up until viability, long considered to be about 24 weeks. If passed by a 60% majority, that amendment would take effect in mid-January.

But providers and advocates say there may be irreversible changes to abortion in Florida before then.

“People, rightfully so, are excited about the opportunity to vote to enshrine abortion up to 24 weeks in the state constitution of Florida. But we can’t forget that these are real people’s lives, in the meantime, that are impacted — who won’t be able to access care, who are going to confront many more challenges,” said Stephanie Loraine Piñeiro, executive director of the Florida Access Network, a fund that helps women afford abortion care.

Piñeiro said some of Florida’s independent abortion providers will struggle to stay afloat for the next nine months.

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