Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed a bill into law that moves the Sunshine State into the forefront of states protecting the unborn by banning abortion in cases where a doctor determines a baby can survive outside the mother’s womb.
The bill, signed Friday, goes beyond the state’s current ban on abortions in the third trimester of a pregnancy, which begins at 24 weeks. Now, the procedure will be illegal at any point a doctor determines a fetus is viable.
The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops said the new provisions just recognize the improving ability of medical science in keeping children alive.
“Some babies are capable of survival outside of the womb in the second trimester,” a bishop’s spokeswoman said in a written statement, according to the Associated Press.
“This good legislation protects our society’s most vulnerable, the unborn, and recognizes that an unborn child who is viable and can sustain life outside of the womb has a right to life.”
The law takes effect July 1.
While it allows exceptions for when the life or physical health of the mother are at serious risk, it removes the exception that allowed third-term abortions for the mother’s “psychological health.”
The requirement for viability determination, plus the elimination of the exception for the “psychological health” of the mother, make the new state law among the strictest in the country.
The bill passed Florida’s Republican-dominated Legislature against Democrat opposition throughout the 2014 session, eventually passing in the House 70-45 and the Senate 24-15.
It got a warm welcome at the Republican governor’s desk.
“Governor Scott is pro-life and was glad to sign this bill that protects the lives of children,” spokesman John Tupps said in an email.
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