Multi-front battle over abortion intensifies as Florida joins Republican-led states approving near-total bans

Florida has joined the ranks of a dozen Republican-led states that have approved near-total bans on abortion in the 10 months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed the Heartbeat Protection Act, which prohibits abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, with some exceptions. At six weeks, many women don’t know they are pregnant.

The actual enactment of the bill is dependent on a lawsuit in the state’s supreme court over Florida’s 15-week abortion ban. But it would further reduce abortion access in the Southeast. Mississippi and Alabama have a total abortion ban in place while Georgia has a six-week abortion ban. 

GOP lawmakers show no signs of stopping, with Texas attempting to block websites that offer information on abortion, and Idaho recently making it a felony to assist a minor in obtaining an out-of-state abortion. 

Over 60% of Americans believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases, according to a recent Pew Research poll. 

Some Republicans, such as South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace, are advocating for a more moderate approach that includes later gestational limits and exceptions for cases of rape and incest. 

“I see the pulse of everyday Americans on both sides of the aisle, men and women alike. And they are not with us. They’re not with the extreme far-right crazy nutjobs that want to go to these extreme places,” Mace said. 

The attention is now on the Supreme Court again after a conservative federal appeals court panel on Thursday imposed new restrictions on access to the abortion drug, mifepristone. The restrictions include blocking mail delivery of the drug, shortening the timeframe in which women can take it from 10 weeks to seven weeks, and requiring in-person doctor visits. 

Mifepristone, which is used in over 50% of abortions in the U.S., has been approved by the FDA for 23 years and has long been considered safe, said Dr. Celine Gounder, a CBS News contributor.  

“Mifepristone is one of the safest medications we have. It went through not just a normal FDA approval process, but was really held to a higher standard,” Gounder said. 

The Justice Department has appealed the new restrictions on the drug to the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court does not take action by the end of day Friday, the new abortion drug restrictions will go into effect on Saturday.

Some Democrat-led states are stockpiling abortion medication.

“Last year, the attacks were on abortion procedures. This year, medication abortion. What’s next? Contraception, birth control?” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said this week at a press conference.

Aaron Navarro contributed to this article.

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