Bill seeks to prevent abortion charges in Florida

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Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade
Signs at the “Bans Off Our Bodies” rally along the downtown waterfront of St. Petersburg, Florida. By Seán Kinane/WMNF News (24 June 2022).

Pointing to comments made by Gov. Ron DeSantis this week, Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book on Friday filed a bill aimed at preventing women from being charged with crimes after obtaining abortions.

A law signed by DeSantis in April would prohibit abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

The law says “any person who willfully performs or actively participates in a termination of pregnancy” in violation of the law would face felony charges.

DeSantis, who is running for president, said Wednesday it would not apply to women seeking abortions.

“We have no criminal penalty. … The penalties are for the physician,” the governor said during an interview on “CBS Evening News.”

DeSantis said the bill was aimed at medical providers.

“It is not for the women,” he added.

The law would prohibit abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, except in cases where the life of the pregnant person is at risk.

It would permit abortions up to 15 weeks in cases of rape, incest or human trafficking.

Book’s bill, filed for consideration during the legislative session that will begin in January, would add wording to say a criminal penalty “does not apply to the pregnant woman who terminates the pregnancy.”

The bill (SB 34) “capitalizes on the governor’s interpretation of this cruel and dangerous ban by clarifying and correcting Florida law to shield women from being criminalized or jailed over abortion,” a news release issued by Book’s office said.

The six-week ban is contingent on a Florida Supreme Court ruling in a challenge to a 2022 law restricting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The six-week ban would go into effect if justices uphold the 15-week ban.

“The imprisonment of women, girls, sexual assault survivors, and their doctors through dangerous abortion bans is cruel and anti-freedom. The governor has said ‘that will not happen in Florida’ — but we’re not just going to take his word for it, we’re fighting to ensure it,” Book, D-Davie, said in Friday’s release.

DeSantis’ comments also drew attention from other critics of the abortion prohibitions.

“Ron is asking us to ‘trust him.’ Ladies, how do we feel about that?” Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried said in a Thursday post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

©2023 The News Service of Florida

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