U.S.

Florida Abortion Ban to Take Effect, Cutting Off Major Access Point

Florida has long played a significant role in the American abortion landscape, with dozens of clinics providing the procedure to tens of thousands of residents a year while also taking in patients from across the Southeast.

That era will end, at least for now, on Wednesday, when a ban on most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy will take effect. The strict new law will replace a 15-week ban and require most Floridians and other Southerners seeking the procedure to travel to Virginia or farther.

Almost every other state in the region banned or sharply restricted abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022; many had few abortion providers even before the ruling. North Carolina still allows abortions up to 12 weeks, but with a 72-hour waiting period that makes it a less practical option for out-of-state patients.

“The surrounding states have been desperate to find a place to go within a reasonable distance,” said Kelly Flynn, the president and chief executive of A Woman’s Choice, a network of abortion clinics, including one in Jacksonville, Fla., “and we have been that place.”

Instead of the number of abortions in Florida decreasing after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the 15-week ban into law in April 2022, as proponents had hoped, it went up because more patients were coming from Southern states with more restrictions or near-total bans.

Florida, the third-largest state by population, has about 50 clinics and last year provided some 84,000 abortions; nearly 8,000 of them were for women from outside the state. Until July 2022, Florida allowed abortions until about 24 weeks.

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