TALLAHASSEE, FL — Today, the Florida House is expected to pass HB 5, which would ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The legislation makes no exception for rape or incest. OB/GYNs based in Florida who are members of the Committee to Protect Health Care released the following concerns about the legislation.
“This cruel and extreme ban will harm the health and well-being of my patients and people across Florida, particularly low-income residents, people of color, and rural Floridians,” said Dr. Cecilia Grande, an OB/GYN in Pinecrest. “Pregnancy is not a benign state, and forcing people to carry unwanted or unsafe pregnancies longer or to term by putting up barriers to care jeopardizes their lives, especially for people with chronic medical conditions as well as Black, Latino, and Indigenous populations, who unfortunately suffer higher mortality rates and health disparities. Finally, this legislation, clearly not written by experts in reproductive health care, will further victimize victims of rape and incest, many of whom I’ve treated, and who deserve the dignity of health care without suffering.”
This legislation comes 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.
“There is no medical or scientific justification for a ban on abortion at 15 weeks — from my standpoint as an OB/GYN it is an arbitrary and cruel cutoff just to make it harder for patients to receive care,” said Dr. Katherine Sutherland, a Winterhaven OB/GYN. “Nobody should be forced to drive hundreds of miles, lose wages or hours at work, or pay exorbitant travel costs just to get the basic health care they need. These hurdles will only further hurt marginalized patients and those who are young, disabled, or lacking financial resources.”
Dr. Jennifer Schell, an OB/GYN in Miami, said, “Abortion is a safe as long as it’s legal. It is also a critical component of health care that every person should be able to access when they need it. As physicians dedicated to what is best for the physical and mental health of our patients, we’re compelled to stand up against these attacks on women’s health care and advocate for improving access so that abortion is legal, available, and affordable across Florida.”