Pro-abortion rights activists participate in the "Rally for Our Freedom"

Pro-abortion rights activists participate in the "Rally for Our Freedom" in Orlando, Florida, on April 13, 2024.

(Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

Florida's Near-Total Ban Shows Real-Life Version of Trump Abortion Policy

"There is one person responsible for this nightmare: Donald Trump," said President Joe Biden. "This November, voters are going to teach him a valuable lesson: Don't mess with the women of America."

As former Republican U.S. President Donald Trump campaigns on his contribution to reversing Roe v. Wade and endorses letting states track pregnancies and prosecute those who violate local restrictions on reproductive care, Florida's six-week abortion ban took effect on Wednesday.

Abortion rights have dominated this year's contest between Trump, a Florida resident, and Democratic President Joe Biden—who blamed the presumptive GOP candidate for the new ban, which prohibits care before many patients know they are pregnant.

"There is one person responsible for this nightmare: Donald Trump," Biden said in a campaign statement. "Trump brags about overturning Roe v. Wade, making extreme bans like Florida's possible, saying his plan is working 'brilliantly.' He thinks it's brilliant that more than 4 million women in Florida, and more than 1 in 3 women in America, can't get access to the care they need."

"Trump brags about overturning Roe v. Wade, making extreme bans like Florida's possible."

"Now, he wants to go even further, making it clear he would sign a national abortion ban if elected. Just yesterday, he once again endorsed punishing women for getting the care they need," Biden continued. "Trump is worried the voters will hold him accountable for the cruelty and chaos he created. He's right. Trump ripped away the rights and freedom of women in America. This November, voters are going to teach him a valuable lesson: Don't mess with the women of America."

Florida's six-week ban—signed last spring by a failed Trump primary challenger, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis—was allowed to go into effect because of a state Supreme Court ruling last month. The same day, the high court approved a ballot initiative—known as Amendment 4—that would outlaw pre-viability abortion bans in Florida. The measure is expected to appear on the November ballot.

Dr. Chelsea Daniels of the Yes on 4 campaign, which is working the pass the ballot measure, said Wednesday that "the women of Florida are in trouble. Today, we awoke to a new world. A world where the state, and not individuals, is in control of our bodies, our lives, and our futures. A world where treatable complications in pregnancies will become life-threatening, not because we don't know how to treat them, but because we won't be allowed."

Daniels continued:

It should go without saying that doctors should not have to risk criminal prosecution to treat the patient in front of them.

But these bans have even more dangerous consequences for patients: a 10-year-old girl from Ohio who was raped had to travel to Indiana to get the abortion she needed, and in Texas, one woman who miscarried lost liters of blood and had to go on a breathing machine before doctors were legally able to intervene and help her. And in Louisiana, we've seen the OB-GYN shortage that anti-abortion bans have caused for the entire state.

"Don't believe the politicians who say there are meaningful exceptions in this law for rape and incest," the doctor added. "The so-called exceptions are a cruel deception designed to fail women and girls when they are most in need."

NBC News reported Tuesday that before Florida's new law took effect, abortion clinics in the state had full waiting rooms and "phones were ringing off the hook" as providers were "trying to see as many patients as possible" before Wednesday.

"Tomorrow is going to look very different," Kelly Flynn, CEO of A Woman's Choice of Jacksonville, told the outlet Tuesday. "A lot of patients will come in for the consult and be told that we can't see them."

Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida interim CEO Barbara Zdravecky similarly told the Orlando Sentinel that she expects the group's clinics will have to decline care.

"Planned Parenthood's motto has always been 'care no matter what.' And we don't turn patients away," she said. "So this is a very devastating and tragic situation for our staff, who have to say, 'We can't take care of you, we have to send you someplace else.'"

Zdravecky confirmed clinics will still provide follow-up exams to those who acquire abortion pills online, saying that "we want to be able to assist anyone with any type of care that we legally can do in order to make sure they have the care that they need to stay healthy."

The newspaper noted that "those who can find the funds will travel to other states. For most Floridians, and most of the southeast U.S., the closest state to get an abortion past six weeks will be North Carolina. The closest place to terminate a pregnancy past 12 weeks will be Virginia or Illinois."

"It is horrifying that extremist politicians have forced pregnant people and their healthcare providers into this nightmare. But it does not have to be this way."

Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy counsel at the ACLU of Florida, said in a statement that "no one should be forced to travel thousands of miles across state lines in search of essential healthcare."

"It is horrifying that extremist politicians have forced pregnant people and their healthcare providers into this nightmare. But it does not have to be this way," Gross added. "Amendment 4, which limits government interference with abortion, will be on the ballot this November and we must all vote yes on 4 to ensure that the freedom to determine whether and when to grow our family remains with the people—not politicians."

Like the ACLU of Florida, Planned Parenthood is among the groups backing the ballot measure. So is Flynn, who founded the independent clinic in Jacksonville over two decades ago.

"I am optimistic that we will have the votes," she said. "In the meantime, we are really talking to patients and explaining to them how important this is to get out and vote."

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