For the last several months, Florida has been the most accessible destination for people seeking abortion care in the Southeast. That’s because some of its closest neighbors have already instituted near or total abortion bans in the ten months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. In Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, abortions are essentially illegal unless there’s a risk to the mother’s life. Georgia, which borders Florida, also has a six-week abortion ban, which is earlier than most women know they’re pregnant. And in Texas, doctors potentially face life sentences if they perform abortions.
But on Thursday night, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a six-week abortion ban, with exceptions for rape and incest up to 15 weeks (though evidence of those crimes has to be presented). The legislation won’t take effect until a legal challenge to its current ban is resolved before the state Supreme Court, but its implementation will have a significant impact on abortion across the country, particularly in the South.
Such limitations mean that those seeking abortions in the South will likely have to travel farther to find clinics and providers who can legally perform the procedure. Right now, North and South Carolina are likely to be preferred destinations. In South Carolina, abortion is legal up to around 20 weeks after a six-week ban passed in 2021 was struck down by its state Supreme Court. But the state legislature has considered a variety of bans, including a more extreme recent bill that would consider abortion akin to murder, potentially punishable by the death penalty. Per NBC News, the legislation has lost support from Republican co-sponsors and hasn’t made much progress since March.
The New York Times reports that North Carolina, which currently allows abortions for up to 20 weeks, has had a 37 percent increase in the number of abortions performed in the state in the months since Roe was overturned. And while the procedure is legal there for now, a recent Democratic defection in the legislature makes that status tenuous.