Abortion clinics and pregnancy centers gear up for 15-week abortion ban

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Legislation that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy is nearing final passage in the Florida Legislature and abortion clinics and pregnancy care centers are already preparing for the law to change.

The legislation would ban abortions after 15 weeks of gestation in almost all cases.

Only if a mother’s life is at risk or the fetus isn’t likely to survive would the procedure be allowed after the cutoff.

The legislation hasn’t even passed, let alone gone into effect, but A Woman’s Choice, a local abortion clinic, is already fielding calls from concerned women.

“We are already engaged in phone calls where people are calling and saying, ‘can I still get an abortion,” said Terry Sallas-Merritt with A Woman’s Choice.

For the time being, abortions after 15-weeks are still legal, but the clinic is gearing up for that to change.

They’ve begun getting women in for ultrasounds early to help determine how far along they are in their pregnancy and have beefed up resources to get women in as quickly as possible.

“We also have funding assistance now and a whole-patient support system that works with women who are having problems, the challenges that we talked about earlier like childcare, and work and transportation,” said Sallas-Merritt.

Just two doors down at Women’s Help Center, a pro-life pregnancy help nonprofit, Executive Director Nancy Bashan said if and when the legislation becomes law, women who miss the 15-week cutoff still have resources available to help them through their pregnancy.

“If they need financial support, help with bills, we help them with that. If they need help finding housing or a job, we help them with that,” said Bashan.

The clinic doesn’t provide abortions and instead encourages women to carry their pregnancies to term.

“You know they’re told if you have this baby you can’t finish college, if you have this baby you can’t have a career and instead of telling women they can’t, we tell them yes you can and we’ll help you do that,” said Bashan.

But Sallas-Merritt is critical of Bashan’s approach, saying women should have all options available.

“They try to talk people out of doing anything but continuing a pregnancy and I think that’s wrong, it’s deceptive, it’s manipulative and of course it’s misleading,” said Sallas-Merritt.

Both the pro-life and pro-choice organizations do help women connect with adoption agencies if that’s the path they choose.

One thing is certain if the legislation passes, the only option available for someone in Florida to get an abortion if they miss the 15-week cut-off, would be to travel out of state.

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