Abortions in Florida increased in 2022 despite 15-week limit

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Despite the enactment of a pro-life law in 2022 to protect preborn children from abortion beginning at 15 weeks in Florida, abortions in the state rose by nearly three percent (3%) from 2021.

Though the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) reported in December that abortions in Florida fell by 14.5% in 2022, additional data came in following the publishing of that report, revealing a more complete picture.

Between 2017 and 2020, abortions increased by nine percent (9%) in Florida, with 74,868 abortions reported in 2020. Abortions increased again in 2021 to 79,817, and in 2022, abortions totaled 82,192. That’s an increase of 2,375 more children killed.

Nearly 60,000 of the abortions took place in the first trimester, which ends at the end of gestational week 14 (the end of 12 weeks post-fertilization). The 15-week restriction protects children immediately after this point. In addition, 6,708 women traveled to Florida presumably from states that have stronger protections in place for preborn children. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “the organs and body systems are fully formed by the end of 12 weeks,” though “the fetus cannot survive independently” (emphasis added).

In 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 5, or “Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality,” which protects preborn babies 15 weeks gestation and older from abortion. The law has two exceptions: when there is a “serious risk” to the mother’s physical health or in an emergency, even though induced abortion (which intentionally kills the preborn child) is not medically necessary.

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Prior to the complete data reporting, Florida Right to Life credited this law with a reduction in abortions, though the law took effect on July 1, and Florida’s abortion numbers were reported to be dropping in May. There were 16,623 abortions in Florida from January to May, which would have led to a 38% drop if that same rate had continued, according to Health News Florida.

Of the 15-week abortion law that DeSantis signed, he said, “This is a time where these babies have beating hearts, they can move, they can taste, they can see, they can feel pain, they can suck their thumbs, and they have brain waves. This will represent the most significant protections for life that have been enacted in this state for a generation.”

While the law was a pro-life win, Florida legislators neglected the opportunity to introduce a bill similar to the Texas Heartbeat Act, protecting babies as young as six weeks from abortion and saving thousands more lives. DeSantis himself admitted that the 15-week law was “not banning anything.” Yet earlier this month, he indicated that he is “willing to sign great life legislation” and that he would “take the lead” on a “heartbeat bill.”

In Texas, where a law protecting preborn children with detectable heartbeats was passed, abortions fell by 99% in just two months following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. However, women from states with stronger protections in place for preborn babies appear to have traveled to Florida to undergo abortions, ensuring that babies protected in their own home state were still killed by abortion.

In all, 50 pro-life measures were adopted in 2022 across the nation, and (as of January 6), according to The New York Times, 14 states protect nearly all preborn children from abortion. Pro-life laws have been shown to help reduce the number of abortions.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article included data from the Agency Health Care Administration that stated abortions in Florida declined in 2022. That data was incomplete at the time of publication. This article has been altered to reflect this change.

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