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Abortion: Doctors Speak Out Against FL 15-Week Abortion Ban Legislation

Hearing scheduled today in Health Policy Committee

Photo of woman sitting by street light with copy: A woman's right to choose. Doctors speak out agains FL 15-week abortion ban legislation
Photo by Jackson Simmer via Pixibay | Columbia County Observer graphic

TALLAHASSEE, FL - Republicans in the Florida Legislature are fast-tracking a 15-week abortion ban over the objections of activists and medical professionals.

Last Thursday, students activists chanted "Let us speak," after the committee chairperson, Rep. Bryan Avila - R-Miami Springs - cut off public comment to give committee members time to debate.

Link to SB - 146The bill was approved on a party-line vote. It states a "physician may not perform a termination of pregnancy if the physician determines the gestational age of the fetus is more than 15 weeks."

Dr. Guy Benrubi, a Jacksonville-based obstetrician and gynecologist, said the rule is problematic for a number of reasons.

"We have some women that only have three cycles a year," said Benrubi. "How is this woman doing to know that she hasn't had a cycle this month because she's pregnant? And, you know, 15 weeks is three-and-a-half months. She may not have a period during the three-and-a-half month period."

The ban includes an exception if the pregnant person's health is at risk, but there are no exceptions for rape or incest.

The legislature has a GOP majority and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has already signaled his support for the ban. The bill has one final committee stop this week before a House vote.

Dr. Benrubi predicted if the bill becomes law, it would have the most impact on the state's most vulnerable populations - including some who would have to drive up to 570 miles to the nearest clinic. "Worst impact for women of color, for women who do not have a lot of resources, for rural women," said Benrubi, "because its difficult to get to providers. There are not that many providers in the state, and there are a lot of counties that have absolutely no providers."

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Florida issued this statement: "Like all medical matters, decisions regarding reproductive medical care should be made between a patient and their health care provider - not lawmakers."

The bill is being heard today in the Health Policy Committee.

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