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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Apr. 14, 2022 2 months ago

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act

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The law prohibits all abortions after 15 weeks of gestation.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 5, the Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act Thursday, April 14, in Kissimmee.

“House Bill 5 protects babies in the womb who have beating hearts, who can move, who can taste, who can see, and who can feel pain,” said DeSantis said. “Life is a sacred gift worthy of our protection, and I am proud to sign this great piece of legislation which represents the most significant protections for life in the state’s modern history.”

HB 5, which prohibits an abortion after an unborn child has reached 15 weeks of gestation, is the latest in a series of bills aimed at protecting unborn children. In June 2020, DeSantis signed SB 404, legislation which requires written consent from a minor’s parent or legal guardian for an abortion. Last year, he signed SB 2518, which helps to reduce maternal mortality rates and improve health outcomes for new mothers and children by extending postpartum eligibility for Medicaid from 60 days to 12 months post-delivery.

And after seven years of legal challenges by pro-abortion activists and activist judges, Florida’s 24-hour waiting period was upheld and reinstated by a circuit court judge earlier this week.

HB 5 amends several other sections of law with the aim of further reducing fetal and infant mortality. This bill adds a requirement to the Comprehensive Statewide Tobacco Education and Use Prevention Program to target information towards pregnant women and women who may become pregnant and requires the Department of Health to contract with local Healthy Start coalitions to establish fetal and infant mortality review committees in all regions of the state.

Each FIMR committee is required to:

• Review and analyze rates, trends, causes, and other data related to fetal and infant mortality and morbidity in its geographic area.

• Develop findings and recommendations for interventions and policy changes to reduce fetal and infant mortality and morbidity rates.

• Engage with local communities and stakeholders to implement recommended policies and procedures to reduce fetal and infant mortality and morbidity.

HB 5 appropriates $1,602,000 in recurring funds from the General Revenue Fund for Fiscal Year 2022-2023 to DOH for this purpose and requires all hospitals that provide birthing services to participate in at least two quality initiatives developed in collaboration with the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative within the University of South Florida College of Public Health.

Earlier this week, DeSantis also signed legislation to support fatherhood in Florida. HB 7065, which includes educational programs, mentorship programs, and one-on-one support to encourage responsible and involved fatherhood in Florida. The bill is tied to nearly $70 million in funding to provide a wide spectrum of family and youth support through the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Children and Families.

“Life is precious and children are a God-given gift,” said Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez said of HB 5. “It provides added protections for the unborn child. Governor DeSantis and I remain steadfast in our commitment to defending the sanctity of innocent human life and protecting the unborn.”

“Being a single mother has not been easy, but I have the good fortune to be where I am now,” Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Simone Marstiller said. “When I was in college, I fell pregnant at 19. I went to a physician and was handed a referral for abortion without any counseling. I decided to keep my baby and when she was born, yelling and screaming, she was put on my chest and immediately fell silent. That is when I knew I had done the right thing. It takes courage for any woman who finds herself at a crossroads and has to make the toughest decision of their life. I hope hearing my story will encourage someone out there to make a choice and choose life, do not believe the narrative that a baby will ruin your life and that abortion is the right choice, you will be fine and all will be well.”

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