Florida once again made strides this week in the protection of the unborn. Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 5, the Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act, effectively prohibiting abortion of unborn children past 15 weeks of gestation. The bill makes exceptions only in the event of “fatal fetal abnormality” or “reasonable medical judgment” that continuation of the pregnancy poses a threat to the woman’s life or “serious risk” to the mother’s health, excluding psychological conditions.
Surrounded by pro-life advocates at Thursday’s bill signing, Governor DeSantis said, “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.” He described life as “a sacred gift worthy of our protection,” further stating, “I am proud to sign this great piece of legislation which represents the most significant protections for life in the state’s modern history.”
HB 5 not only notably restricts abortion in the state of Florida, but it also includes a number of provisions aimed at reducing fetal and infant mortality. It amends existing requirements for the Comprehensive Statewide Tobacco Education and Use Prevention Program, with the intent of targeting information to pregnant women and women who may become pregnant. Additionally, the bill requires the Department of Health to contract with local Healthy Start organizations to establish fetal and infant mortality review committees across the state for the purpose of analyzing trends, rates, causes concerning fetal and infant morbidity and to develop findings, recommendations, and policies to reduce rates.
DeSantis’s pro-life measures comprise just one aspect of his family focused agenda as Governor. More than $86 million has been allocated for pregnancy support and prenatal health services, as well as $68.9 million in grant funding for the promotion of fatherhood and community engagement among Florida’s children. HB 241, signed into law earlier this year, serves to protect parental rights in their children’s education and upbringing, and HB 7065 promotes and elevates the importance of fatherhood in Florida families.