Florida doctors are speaking out against Governor Ron DeSantis signing a 15-week abortion ban on Thursday, warning the legislation could potentially harm patients’ health.
DeSantis signed a law that would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, replacing one that allowed abortions up to 24 weeks. The new 15-week ban makes no exceptions for cases of incest, rape or human trafficking. It authorizes termination of pregnancy if the procedure saves the life of the pregnant person.
“House Bill 5 protects babies in the womb who have a beating heart, who can move, who can taste, who can see and who can feel pain,” DeSantis said in a statement Wednesday. “Life is a sacred gift worthy of our protection, and I am proud to sign this great bill which represents the most important protections for life in modern state history.”
Dr. Robyn Schickler, an obstetrician-gynecologist and abortion provider in Tampa, Florida, called the abortion ban “extreme.”
She said there was no reason to ban abortions, clarifying that there was no reason to push for a 15-week ban instead of the current 24-week ban.
“There’s no real medical or scientific reason for this; it’s really arbitrary,” Schickler said. Newsweek. “Twenty-four weeks specifically has to do with fetal viability (how long a fetus can survive outside the womb). After 15 weeks, there’s no scientific reason.”
Florida abortion providers affiliated with the Committee for the Protection of Health Care, a national advocacy group that fights for ‘affordable, quality health care that protects patients’, call the law ‘reckless’ and “inappropriate”.
“Protecting and expanding access to abortion is essential to promoting healthy lives and families, and that is why, as physicians, we are appalled that Florida politicians are recklessly and inappropriately meddling with the medicine,” Schickler said.
“Decisions about abortion should be made between people who might get pregnant and their doctors, not between politicians with no experience in health care,” she continued.
Dr. Kelly Thibert, a family physician and abortion provider in Bradenton, Fla., says patients should be able to make their own decisions about their health by following their doctor’s advice “without interference from politicians.”
“There is no medical reason to ban abortions after 15 weeks; there is only potential harm,” Thibert said. “Doctors know that forcing a person to carry a pregnancy to term can lead to physical or mental health problems, or force them to stay with an abusive partner.”
Newsweek contacted DeSantis’ office for comment.