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'Politicians are recklessly and inappropriately meddling': Florida doctors react to abortion ban

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 5, a bill banning abortion after 15 weeks in Florida, into law Thursday morning.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — In a response to a new state law which will ban abortion after 15 weeks, Florida physicians are speaking out. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill, HB 5, into law Thursday morning. 

The legislation bans abortion if a doctor finds the gestational age of a fetus is more than 15 weeks. Previously, Florida law banned abortions after 24 weeks.

The only exceptions to the ban include if the mother is at risk of death, or "irreversible physical impairment," or if the fetus has a fetal abnormality. 

A proposed amendment to make exceptions in cases of rape or incest was denied.

“These are protections for babies that have heartbeats, that can feel pain, and this is very, very late, so I think when you’re talking about late term, that’s one thing and so I think the protections are warranted and I think that we’ll be able to sign that in short order," DeSantis said recently.

Doctors with the Committee to Protect Health Care, a "national mobilization of doctors, health care professionals," released a statement condemning the new law.

“Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican legislators who support this extreme law are taking away access to an important medical option in reproductive health care," said Dr. Robyn Schickler, an OBGYN and abortion provider from Tampa. “Protecting and expanding abortion access is critical to promoting healthy lives and families, and that’s why, as physicians, we’re dismayed that Florida’s politicians are recklessly and inappropriately meddling in medicine. Decisions around abortion should be made between people who can get pregnant and their doctors, not politicians with zero experience in health care."

Dr. Kelly Thibert, a family medicine physician and abortion provider from Bradenton, also said decisions surrounding abortion should stay strictly between physicians and their patients.

“There is no medical reason to ban abortions after 15 weeks; there are only potential harms. Physicians know that forcing a person to carry a pregnancy to term can cause physical or mental health issues, or force them to remain with a violent partner," Thibert said. "Physicians see the difficulties patients face when they are forced to travel hundreds of miles, paying high travel costs, finding child care, and losing wages or a job, just to get an abortion, a safe and necessary medical procedure."

Dr. Stacy De-Lin, a family medicine physician from Fort Myers, worried about the cost of travel for women seeking abortions in other states. 

“Roe v. Wade, which protects the constitutional right to an abortion, should be the floor for abortion care, not the ceiling,” said Dr. Stacy De-Lin, a family medicine physician from Fort Myers. “Too many Floridians, particularly those with lower incomes, those in rural areas, Black, Brown, Indigenous, minority and other underrepresented communities, already face barriers to affordable abortion access. Florida’s leaders should be working to reduce these barriers, not put up more. This law will only further risk the health and lives of Floridians who already face health care disparities and higher maternal mortality rates.”

The law is set to take effect July 1, 2022.

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