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DeSantis signs a 15-week ban on most abortions into law

 Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a 15-week abortion ban into law during a press conference in Kissimmiee on April 14, 2022.
Gov. Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a 15-week abortion ban into law during a press conference in Kissimmiee on April 14, 2022.

Saying it "represents the most significant protections for life in the state's modern history," Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday sign a bill that bans most abortions after 15 weeks.

DeSantis signed the bill while flanked by lawmakers during a press conference in Kissimmee.

The move comes amid a growing conservative push to restrict abortion ahead of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could limit access to the procedure nationwide.

"House Bill 5 protects babies in the womb who have beating hearts, who can move, who can taste, who can see, and who can feel pain,” DeSantis said in a press release. “Life is a sacred gift worthy of our protection, and I am proud to sign this great piece of legislation."

The bill was one of the most intensely disputed issues of the 2022 legislative session.

The new law also marked a significant blow to abortion access in the South, where Florida has provided wider access to the procedure than its regional neighbors.

At the press conference at a church in Kissimmee, outgoing Senate President Wilton Simpson said the law would "protect life."

"Abortion kills children and forever changes the life of mothers, the father, and the entire extended family," Simpson said. "Every unborn child is a special and unique human being, deserving of protection from harm and the chance to grow up in a loving family."

It does not allow for exemptions in cases where pregnancies were caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.

Gricel Gonzalez, press secretary for the Florida Democratic Party, issued this statement following the announcement:

"Not to consider women's rights to choose is outrageous. Women who have been victims of rape, incest, and human trafficking have already been through enough emotional trauma and ignoring this is a direct attack against women. This radical and abject hostility towards women's rights is unacceptable. For decades women have been victims of men trying to make decisions for them, and Gov. DeSantis' actions are no exception."

Republicans in several states have moved to place new restrictions on abortion after the Supreme Court signaled it is poised to uphold a Mississippi law banning the procedure after 15 weeks.

Under current law, Florida allows abortions up to 24 weeks.

The law is scheduled to take effect in July, but opponents say they will challenge the law in court.

Information from the Associated Press and WUSF staff writer Cathy Carter contributed to this report.

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Carl Lisciandrello is digital news editor of WUSF Public Media.