Students divided on six-week abortion ban
Junior political science major Sky Jensing said the passing of the Heartbeat Protection Act is a dramatic attack on bodily autonomy and raises concerns for children and low income communities.
“I think it is being portrayed to be an issue of morality, when it is not. It’s an issue of control,” Jensing said. “If the concern was their well-being, they would invest in nonprofits catered to children and after school hours in lower income communities.”
Jensing also mentioned Florida’s lack of investment in comprehensive sex education and the foster care system. Polk, Pasco and Hillsborough county have an average of 3.2 children of every 1,000 entering the foster care system compared to 2.2 in Texas, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau office.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration passed House Bill 5 (H.B. 5), prohibiting physicians from performing abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy in the state of Florida on July 1, 2022. Nine months later, the governor promoted Senate Bill 300 (S.B. 300) on April 4, which would decrease the ban to six weeks of gestation.
While S.B. 300 has passed in the Florida senate, it still needs to be approved by the House of Representatives before returning to DeSantis’ desk for approval. H.B. 5 is allowed to stand until its Supreme Court hearing caused by a legal challenge on the bill’s constitutionality, according to an April 4 AP News article.
S.B. 300 will prohibit healthcare providers from using telehealth to perform abortions and from dispensing abortion pill options to patients unless done in-person, according to the Florida Senate website. The bill also includes exemptions for those who might receive an abortion until 15 weeks of pregnancy in case of sexual assault, human trafficking or incest.
Some students view DeSantis’ move as progress for those with conservative values, according to USF College Republicans Vice President Andrew Davis. He said the strong positioning DeSantis is taking will save lives and promote nuclear family systems in Florida.
Although it’s not confirmed whether DeSantis will run for presidency, Davis said he believes the administration’s strong stance against abortion leaves DeSantis well positioned among conservatives, possibly influencing other states to follow suit.
“We have seen conservative states that are trying to make this [Florida] an example,” Davis said. “I believe that will slowly become the case. It’s a conservative-led charge, science has changed and children are becoming viable more early on.”
Davis said Floridian economic concerns on having available economic resources to take care of their children are being addressed by DeSantis through legislation that would reduce taxes on children’s products, such as diapers and formula.
Part of the 2023-24 framework budget for the DeSantis administration is a tax relief proposal for Florida families, tax exemptions on toddler items and a yearlong tax exemption on purchasing household items.
Currently, the only House bill in motion to the Appropriations Committee is H.B. 29, aiming to reduce taxes in diapers and formula purchases in the state. The bill was put forward by Orlando Dem. Rep. Anna Eskamani in the House and Dem. Sen. Lauren Book.
The main concern in the rapid change between the 15 and six-week ban legislation is the time frame to reach a provider, according to USF Tampa Planned Parenthood Generation Action Vice President Tripura Vosuri. She said uterus-bearing people lacking resources will be severely impacted by the reduction in the time frame.
In addition, the six-week window is not enough time for uterus-bearing people to effectively identify a gestation, according to Vosuri.
“Anyone will have trouble with this regardless of their privilege in society,” Vosuri said. “Most people don’t know they are pregnant until four or six weeks of gestation, and a lot of people have irregular periods.”
Florida adults from ages 18-29 are extremely divided on the legality of abortion. Out of those who were polled, 20% believe it should be legal in all cases, and 21% are in favor of abortion being completely illegal, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2022.
In 2019, women between 20-29 years old accounted for 56% of total abortions in the United States, according to the CDC. Jensing said the new legislation will mostly affect young parents that are not financially capable of providing a good life to their children, so removing the choice will be socioeconomically detrimental to the child.
“It is already hard to struggle alone in poverty, but then to worry about another person who needs healthcare, education and nutrition. I think this creates the endless cycle of keeping poor people right where they are at,” Jensing said.