Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 300, more commonly known as the “Heartbeat Protection Act,” into law. The six-week ban will go into effect only if Florida’s Supreme Court upholds the state’s pre-existing 15-week abortion ban.
“I applaud the legislature for passing the Heartbeat Protection Act that expands pro-life protections and provides additional resources for young mothers and families,” Governor DeSantis said in a statement.
The signed law increases abortion restrictions in Florida. It bans the termination of an unborn child with a detectable heartbeat, which occurs after six weeks. Women have to provide evidence if they are trying to get an abortion due to sexual assault. A doctor only can perform the procedure with official evidence, including medical records or a police report.
Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted his disdain for the ban. He said that the Florida governor stripped “women of their fundamental rights.”
“Florida will now require rape and incest victims to show ‘documents’ to prove they got raped,” he tweeted. “If they can’t provide them, the government will mandate they give birth to their rapist’s child.”
The Impact on Black Women
Black maternal health is a very high concern nationwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the Black maternal mortality rate was 69.9 deaths per 100,000 deaths. That is almost three times the rate for white women. The pre-term birth rate in Florida also is 56 percent higher for Black women, according to a March of Dimes report.
Kelly Treder, an OB-GYN physician, said national abortion bans directly impact Black women before the Heartbeat Protection Act passed. In the Health City interview, she cited centuries of healthcare racism as the cause of Black women’s restricted from reproductive healthcare. She believes that women of color will have less access to abortions because of the lack of economic supports.
“With abortion funds going toward restrictive states for travel costs, Black and brown patients are less likely to have economic supports in place to be able to leave their state and their existing children to travel and get an abortion” Treder said. “One effect that we anticipate is that maternal morbidity and mortality will increase in all groups, because so many people simply will not be able to access abortion.”
She believes that this is a step in the “wrong direction,” when it comes to Black maternal health.