Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed legislation on Thursday that will protect the lives of unborn children by prohibiting the performance of most abortions if the gestational age of a baby is greater than 15 weeks.
DeSantis, a conservative who is seeking re-election during the Sunshine State's 2022 gubernatorial contest, said that the legislation marks "the most significant protections for life" to be enacted in Florida "in a generation."
The law, which is slated to take effect on July 1, allows exceptions if an abortion is deemed necessary to preserve the mother's life or to avoid a significant risk of serious injury — there is also an exception allowed in cases where the fetus has not yet reached viability and has been determined to suffer a "fatal fetal abnormality."
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist of Florida, a Democrat with his sights set on the governorship, noted that if he were governor he would have vetoed the bill. "Women should make decisions about their own bodies, not governors. I'd veto this bill and any attempt to restrict the right to choose. Full stop," Crist tweeted.
Crist previously served as Florida governor from early 2007 to early 2011. The politician was a Republican when he was elected to serve as governor, but in 2010, he lost a U.S. Senate bid while running as an independent.
The Biden administration decried the state's pro-life legislation last month.
"Last night, the Republican-controlled Florida legislature passed a dangerous bill that will severely restrict women’s access to reproductive health care. My Administration will not stand for the continued erosion of women’s constitutional rights," a tweet on President Joe Biden's @POTUS Twitter account declared last month.
A statement from Vice President Kamala Harris described the Florida legislation as "extreme by any standard."
A Wall Street Journal poll of registered voters that was conducted in early March found that 48% would strongly or somewhat favor a law to prohibit abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for the pregnant woman's health, while 43% would be against such a restriction.