Florida abortion law, myth vs. fact, Roe vs. Wade, medical exceptions


As of Wednesday, May 1, Florida, along with several other states, has banned almost all abortions after six weeks. Critics have pointed out that many people still do not find out they are pregnant, and say that the medical exemptions provided in the law to save the life of the pregnant person or prevent irreversible harm in cases of dire emergency are be deliberately vague and confusing.

“This ban puts lives at risk,” said Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach. “People are dying. … That’s what it’s going to lead to for the women in the state of Florida.”

The state is fighting back. In a message on Xformerly Twitter, the Agency for Health Care Administration released some clarification Wednesday to “combat the lies and misinformation surrounding Florida’s Heartbeat Protection Act.”

Striking in the ‘Myth vs. Facts’ leaflet the agency posted is that a pregnant person who seeks or obtains an abortion will not be subject to criminal penalties and that abortions for ectopic pregnancies, premature rupture of membranes or miscarriages are not prohibited. .

None of these facts are explicitly mentioned in the new law or Florida statutes, although Democrats tried and failed to add similar clarifications to the bill last year.

Cases of women nearly dying at the hands of doctors and hospitals, fearing repercussions and ill-defined rules, delaying or rejecting care, have surfaced in other states with similarly restrictive laws. In Florida, a doctor told a woman in Miramar suffering from premature rupture of the membrane (PROM) that he could not deliver the fetus because of the state’s 15-week ban. She delivered it herself in the bathroom of a hair salon last April and lost half her blood before emergency services arrived.

In 2022, a woman in Lakeland was forced to give birth to a baby without kidneys or lungs, who died shortly afterwards. A Planned Parenthood doctor turned away a 14-year-old rape victim who tried to end her pregnancy because of Florida’s abortion ban, according to a lawsuit challenging the law.

Early reports from a University of California San Francisco study found that recent abortion bans contributed to “preventable complications, such as serious infections,” because health care providers “reported that their ‘hands were tied’.”

On the day the six-week ban went into effect, the Florida National Organization for Women (NOW) issued a travel advisory warning pregnant people to avoid traveling or relocating to Florida due to “significant concerns about the availability of essential health care services for pregnant persons with both desired and unwanted pregnancies.”

“Florida is working to ensure the health and safety of mothers and babies by continuing to hold medical providers accountable to the standards of their oath to protect and ensure the health and well-being of their patients,” the AHCA flyer said.

In November, Florida voters will be able to decide whether to return the state’s abortion laws to something similar to the previous federal law under Roe v. Wade.

What is Florida’s abortion law?

Following the Florida Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of a 15-week abortion ban in 2022 in April, a more restrictive 6-week ban, which was passed last year, went into effect on May 1. Abortions after six weeks of pregnancy are prohibited (with some exceptions). and anyone who performs one or helps someone obtain one will be subject to criminal charges, fines, and/or loss of medical licenses.

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What are the exceptions to Florida’s six-week abortion ban?

Under Florida statutes and SB 300’s new ban, abortions after six weeks are only allowed:

  • If necessary to “save the life of the pregnant woman or to avert a serious risk of imminent substantial and irreversible physical impairment of an important bodily function of the pregnant woman, other than a mental illness”
  • If “in reasonable medical judgment the fetus has a fatal fetal abnormality”

The decision must be confirmed in writing by two doctors. Even then, under the new law, abortions are prohibited if the pregnancy has “advanced into the third trimester.” Medical abortions are also prohibited unless personally performed by a health care professional who prohibits the home use of the so-called “abortion pills” mifepristone and misoprostol.

According to the AHCA, pregnant people will not be forced to give birth if their life or health is at risk.

Abortions may also be performed in Florida up to 15 weeks if the patient is pregnant as a result of rape, incest, or human trafficking, but only if the pregnant person has copies of ‘a restraining order, a police report, a medical record, or other court order or documentation ‘. “To prove that they are victims of rape or incest.

What is an ectopic pregnancy?


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In an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes, according to information from the Mayo Clinic. When that happens, the egg cannot survive and the growing tissue can cause life-threatening bleeding.

“Treatment to eliminate an ectopic pregnancy is not prohibited under Florida law,” the AHCA flyer said.

What is premature rupture of membranes (PROM)?

PROM, commonly called ‘water breaking’, normally occurs when the protective amniotic sac surrounding the fetus bursts before or during delivery. If it happens prematurely (presumably before the 37th week of pregnancy), it can cause serious infections and complications.

“Florida law does not prohibit the treatment of women who experience premature rupture of membranes (PROM),” the AHCA said, “and as such, Florida physicians must follow established standards of care regarding the most appropriate course of action for PROM. “

What is a miscarriage?


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Travis County District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble said not allowing abortion access would have been a “true miscarriage of justice.”

“Miscarriage is the sudden loss of a pregnancy before the twentieth week,” says the Mayo Clinic, and up to 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, although that number is likely much higher. Miscarriages often happen when the fetus does not develop properly.

“Florida law does not prohibit the termination of a pregnancy for women who experience a miscarriage under any circumstance,” the AHCA said.

When do most people discover they are pregnant?

Most people find out they are pregnant within six weeks, but one in three don’t know and one in five don’t know until seven weeks, according to a 2021 study from ANSIRH at the University of California San Francisco . The rate is even higher — nearly two in three people — for teens between the ages of 15 and 19 who become pregnant and don’t find out until six weeks or later, the study found.

Symptoms vary widely from person to person and even between different pregnancies of the same person, and an irregular menstrual cycle can make it difficult for someone who is not actively trying to conceive to notice it in time.

The AHCA responded to this issue by mentioning pregnancy tests, which detect the presence of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG. The agency said that “pregnancy tests have evolved significantly over the years. Traces of hCG can now be detected as early as eight days after ovulation.”

Although some pregnancy tests advertise earlier detection, medical experts say a week after the first day of a person’s missed period is more accurate. According to a 2022 post on clevelandclinic.org, “If you take a test too early, it could be negative, even if you are pregnant.”

Can I go to jail for an abortion after six weeks in Florida?

Florida law prohibits anyone from intentionally obtaining an abortion or actively assisting anyone in obtaining an abortion outside of six weeks’ gestation or statutory exemptions. This is considered a third-degree felony, punishable by a fine and five years in prison.

“Florida’s criminal abortion penalties do not apply to pregnant women,” the AHCA said. Florida law only states that a person who undergoes a partial-birth abortion, which is illegal, cannot be prosecuted.

What would Amendment 4, Florida’s abortion amendment, do?

The proposed amendment submitted by Floridians Protecting Freedom and which will appear on the November ballot reads:

“No law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before it is viable or when necessary to protect the health of the patient, as determined by the patient’s health care provider. This amendment does not change the constitutional authority of the Legislature to require notification of a parent or guardian before a minor obtains an abortion.”

Fetal viability is estimated at approximately 24 weeks.

For the amendment to pass, it must have a supermajority, or at least 60% of the votes. Half said they would vote in favor, according to an exclusive USA TODAY/Ipsos poll of more than a thousand Florida residents.

Rumors have swirled about a special legislative session to consider stricter immigration laws, but Gov. Ron DeSantis said he was not aware of any plans to address the abortion amendment.

“That would be news to me if any other amendments were added to the ballot,” he said during a press conference in Jacksonville on Thursday. “Maybe there are people in the legislature talking. It doesn’t come from me.’