Demand for Abortion Increased Under Florida’s Ban. Anti-Abortion Activists Think Another Ban Will Fix This.

“I believe that the influx of women coming into Florida is proof that the 15-week bans don’t help,” one anti-abortion leader said.

Demand for Abortion Increased Under Florida’s Ban. Anti-Abortion Activists Think Another Ban Will Fix This.
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Since the fall of Roe v. Wade, every state neighboring Florida—Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina—has been affected by total or near-total abortion bans. In October, the Society Of Family Planning reported that, between April 2022 and June 2023, monthly abortion rates in these states fell by 100% (except in Louisiana, where the abortion rate fell by 97%, and South Carolina, where the rate fell by 41%.) But in Florida, under a 15-week abortion ban that’s been in effect since July 2022, the abortion rate increased by 35% thanks to a mix of in-state, out-of-state, and even foreign patients.

Looking at this influx of patients from states where abortion is banned from conception, you’d think any logical person would conclude abortion bans don’t stop people from getting care, period. Yet, for Andy Secola, the Florida regional coordinator of Students for Life America, these numbers inexplicably indicate that a 15-week ban isn’t stringent enough: “I believe that the influx of women coming into Florida is proof that the 15-week bans don’t help,” he told WGCU. “I don’t believe in the hardcore abolitionist mentality of ‘all or nothing’ because we are pro-incremental legislation. But now we see that six-week bans work and 15-week bans don’t.” It’s a pretty head-spinning, confusing appraisal of the situation.

His perspective ultimately mirrors other anti-abortion leaders, who’ve spent the year-and-a-half since Roe fell campaigning against anything short of total abortion bans. Earlier this year, movement leaders even beefed with former President Trump—an anti-abortion extremist—for his attempts at posturing as moderate by calling for compromise on abortion. All of this is a preview of what will surely be a messy election year on abortion, as Republicans come to grips with how wildly unpopular their abortion politics are—all while anti-abortion leaders keep pushing them to the right.

In the years leading up to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe, it was often pointed out that banning abortion wouldn’t stop it from happening—it would only endanger pregnant people or force them to travel out of state. And in Florida, abortion funds and reproductive health groups say that’s exactly what they’ve been seeing: The abortion fund Florida Access Network told WGCU they served an influx of abortion seekers from Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Georgia when Roe fell. A Planned Parenthood spokesperson told the outlet that the sharp increase in out-of-state abortion seekers—as well as abortion seekers coming to Florida for care from countries in Latin America and the Caribbean—comes despite ongoing confusion about whether the health service is even legal in the state. “So many people think that the six-week ban has already passed, and we’re making sure they know that they can still get an abortion up to 15 weeks,” Planned Parenthood’s Miranda Colavito told WGCU.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a six-week abortion ban in April, but the law has been blocked in court pending a decision on the constitutionality of the 15-week ban. DeSantis, who transparently signed the six-week ban to bolster his anti-abortion credentials ahead of his presidential bid, ignored harrowing testimony from survivors and activists who were critical of the bill’s requirements for victims to “prove” their rape to get abortion. Thus far, DeSantis’ best arguments for his god-awful abortion laws have been bizarre storytelling about an acquaintance who he claims survived an abortion, and unhelpful rants about absentee fathers.

Since the spring, Florida abortion rights activists have been gathering signatures to put a proposed abortion rights amendment on the 2024 ballot. Florida Division of Elections reports that it’s validated 687,699 of the 891,523 signatures needed by February 1 to get the measure on the ballot. Floridians Protecting Freedom, which is leading the ballot measure effort, says that it’s submitted over 1.3 million signatures total—and more than 150,000 of those signatures actually come from registered Republican voters. “The truth is, most Floridians, and most Americans, are opposed to politicians butting into their most personal and private health care decisions,” the group’s campaign director, Lauren Brenzel, told Jezebel earlier this month. “There is a broad understanding in our state about the importance of returning bodily autonomy to all of our citizens.” Given this “broad understanding,” it’s pretty hard to see anyone in the state getting behind Secola’s demand for something even more punishing than a 15-week ban.

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