Report shows a reduced number of abortions in Florida

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Woman laying on back in doctors office with a nurse giving an ultrasound.
APhoto from Creative Commons for WMNF News (2024).

By Jim Saunders ©2024 The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — With a law taking effect May 1 that prevents abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, a new report gives an initial picture of the reduced number of abortions being performed in Florida.

The report, posted online by the state Agency for Health Care Administration, is dated July 1 and said 36,221 abortions had been performed in Florida in 2024. That was up from a total of 32,081 abortions included in a monthly report dated June 3.

That 4,140-abortion increase was far lower than increases reported in previous months. For example, the June 3 report represented a 9,672-abortion increase over the total of 22,409 abortions included in a May 1 report.

Similarly, the May 1 total reflected a 7,674-abortion increase over the total of 14,735 abortions included in an April 1 report. And the April 1 report reflected a 6,277-abortion increase over the total of 8,458 abortions included in a March 2 report.

It’s unclear whether the July 1 total fully reflects the effects of the six-week abortion limit because of lags in reporting. Abortion clinics are required to submit reports to the Agency for Health Care Administration within 30 days after the end of each month.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Legislature approved the six-week abortion limit in 2023 after passing a 15-week limit in 2022. The state Supreme Court on April 1 rejected a constitutional challenge by abortion-rights supporters to the 15-week limit.

That ruling also had the effect of allowing the six-week limit to take effect May 1.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court also allowed a proposed abortion-rights constitutional amendment to go on the November ballot, setting up perhaps the state’s biggest political fight of 2024. Abortion-rights supporters have turned to ballot initiatives in Florida and other states after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022 struck down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision and left abortion issues to be decided in states.

The proposed Florida amendment says, in part, that no “law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider.” It would need approval from 60 percent of voters to pass.

A state panel Monday will discuss a contentions “financial impact statement” that will appear on the ballot with the proposed constitutional amendment. Such statements estimate how proposed amendments could affect state and local budgets.

Background material prepared for the meeting cited state data that said 39.8 percent of abortions in 2023 came during the first six weeks of “gestation.” It said the state uses a definition “calculated from the first day of the pregnant woman’s last menstrual period.”

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