Florida’s 6-week abortion ban will have nationwide impact, critics warn – Hartford Courant

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Abortion-right advocates are predicting a national fallout from the Florida Supreme Court’s decision Monday to allow a six-week abortion ban to take effect on May 1.

The law will shutter clinics, limit abortions performed here each year, delay care and send thousands of people across state lines to terminate their pregnancies, they said Tuesday.

“[This ban] will affect the entire country,” said Megan Jeyifo from the Chicago Abortion Fund, who added that Florida’s six-week cutoff is “essentially an all-out ban.”

Many low-income women can’t afford travel, prompting them to carry pregnancies to term or take abortion pills at home past six weeks, prescribed via telehealth by doctors from other states.

Six weeks of gestation is just two weeks after a pregnant woman misses her first period before most women know they are pregnant. Florida also still requires two in-person visits at least 24 hours apart before someone can get an abortion.

“It will make it virtually impossible” to get an abortion, said Kara Gross, Legislative Director and Senior Policy Counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

The court also gave the OK for Florida residents to vote on whether to undo the six-week ban in November, through a ballot initiative that aims to put abortion rights into the state’s constitution up until viability, long considered to be about 24 weeks. If passed by a 60% majority, that amendment would take effect in mid-January.

But providers and advocates say there may be irreversible changes to abortion in Florida before then.

“People, rightfully so, are excited about the opportunity to vote to enshrine abortion up to 24 weeks in the state constitution of Florida. But we can’t forget that these are real people’s lives, in the meantime, that are impacted — who won’t be able to access care, who are going to confront many more challenges,” said Stephanie Loraine Piñeiro, executive director of the Florida Access Network, a fund that helps women afford abortion care.

Piñeiro said some of Florida’s independent abortion providers will struggle to stay afloat for the next nine months.

“Abortion clinics don’t receive bailouts, the same that corporations might. So what the landscape is going to look like is going to be dramatically different, whether we’re able to enshrine abortion in the state constitution or not,” she said.

In response to requests about how its operations might change, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida interim CEO Barbara Zdravecky in an emailed statement reiterated the organization’s dedication to providing care.

“When the six-week ban goes into effect, we will continue to provide safe and legal abortion care in compliance with the law. Patients who need abortion care and are past six weeks pregnant will be navigated to other states with more access. Today and every day, Planned Parenthood will care for our patients and will never stop fighting for our right to control our bodies and our lives,” Zdravecky said.

Illinois replaces Florida

On May 1, Illinois will become the closest state to the Southeast that offers abortions past 12 weeks.

“We anticipated the worst, and the worst is here,” said Megan Jeyifo of the Chicago Abortion Fund. “So I think we are prepared for an influx, I think providers in our state have been working tirelessly for the last two years. The largest concern is that there won’t be money to get people to the appointments.”

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