TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida physicians today criticized Governor Ron DeSantis for signing a new state law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The doctors warned that the law will limit basic, critical health care for people who can get pregnant, potentially putting their health and well-being in harm’s way.
“Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican legislators who support this extreme law are taking away access to an important medical option in reproductive health care, and that is access to abortions, which can protect health and even save lives,” 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. The fact is that abortions are a common and critical part of health care that our patients should have the option of pursuing for whatever reason, free of political coercion.”
Gov. DeSantis today signed HB 5, which bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The legislation makes no exception for rape or incest.
“Patients should be able to make their own decisions about their health, using science and medical guidance from their physicians, without interference from politicians,” said Dr. Kelly Thibert, a family medicine physician and abortion provider from Bradenton. “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. 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. For individuals who simply don’t want to be pregnant, or for whom it is dangerous to be pregnant, our job as physicians is to help them get the treatment they need and deserve.”
Gov. DeSantis signed the bill into law as the U.S. Supreme Court is deciding whether to uphold a similar 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi. For the past 50 years, the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v Wade has protected people’s constitutional right to an abortion to the point of fetal viability, around 24 weeks.
“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 and abortion provider 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.”