Women's demonstration for abortion.
Women's demonstration for abortion. Unsplash/Manny Becerra

A Florida congressman introduced a bill that would drastically reduce the circumstances in which women can get abortions in the state, Univisión reported on Wednesday.

Concretely, HB 1519 would only allow procedures take place when continuing a pregnancy endangers the mother's life. Introduced by Republican David Borrero, it would also charge doctors who conduct the abortions when they are not a "medical emergency" with crimes that would see them spend up to 10 years in prison. It would also fine them for up to $100,000.

"This is justified because, according to many polls, most women feel a sense of regret after having an abortion," Borrero told Univision.

Florida currently allows abortions to proceed before 15 weeks of pregnancy, with rape an incest as exceptions. The current bill would not contemplate these cases if the mother's life is not in danger.

Pro-choice groups were swift to criticize the bill. "It goes against our daughters, our future, the decisions we can make on our own bodies," Andrea Mercado, spokeswoman of Florida Rising organization told Univisión.

This is not the only way in which abortion rights could be curtailed in Florida, as the state's Supreme Court is deliberating over a case that could reduce that period to six weeks.

However, there are other initiatives gaining traction in the state and could enshrine abortion rights in its Constitution. Less than three weeks ago, one such initiative passed the threshold necessary to put a referendum in the ballot in November, something that could potentially have electoral implications, as well as for reproductive rights all across the U.S: southeast.

Concretely, advocates needed 891,523 signatures to make it into the ballot. The figure has already surpassed 910,000. The amendment to the state constitution says: "No law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient's health, as determined by the patient's healthcare provider."

Florida's Supreme Court now has until April to decide whether it approves the language for use on the ballot. It is scheduled to hear arguments on the case on February 7. State Attorney General, Republican Ashely Moody, has already filed a legal brief in November asking the amendment be killed, arguing that the use of the term "viability" is an attempt to "hoodwink" voters.

According to Axios, abortion rights have won every time they've been on the ballot since the overturning of Roe V. Wade last summer. The issue will likely be of great importance for Latinos in Florida, as a new study showed that Latinas have been disproportionately impacted by the Supreme Court ruling.

An analysis by the Institute of Labor Economics, showed that birth rates increased by an average of 2.3 percent in states that implemented abortion bans compared to the those that still have protections in place. Research showed that the impact of the Court's decision was "especially large for Hispanic women," with a birth rate increase of 4.7 percent.

Researchers explained that this demographic tends to face economic challenges, making its members more disadvantaged in terms of being able to travel to an abortion clinic in other states.

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