Last month, the Florida Supreme Court turned back the clock on reproductive justice in a big way when it upheld the state’s six-week abortion ban. Despite the detrimental 15-week ban that has been in effect since the 2022 Dobbs decision, Florida has remained a southern destination for out-of-state patients seeking abortion care because laws in their home states were even more restrictive. Planned Parenthood clinics spent the last month accommodating as many appointments as possible before their legal ability to provide abortion care became extremely limited. Thanks to the state courts and legislature, as of May 1, abortion access in Florida is now more restricted than ever under the state’s near-total ban. 

IWPR estimates that reproductive restrictions caused an economic loss of $5.7 billion to Florida’s economy in 2022. Fifteen percent more women aged 15–44 would have entered the labor force that year if reproductive restrictions were lifted, and the same demographic earned $22.80 less in weekly median earnings than in 2021. This nearly $6 billion economic loss happened during a year marked by the Dobbs decision, the latter half of which was subject to a 15-week trigger abortion ban. To put it even more simply, as high as these estimated costs already are, we have every reason to believe that the numbers will only go up as we see more and more restrictions and bans enacted in the state. As Florida moves to make abortion access nonexistent within its border, it begs the question how much more might a six-week ban cost the state? And billions of dollars in economic loss doesn’t even begin to account for the human cost. 

Come November, Floridians will have the final say. The same day the six-week abortion ban was upheld, the court also green-lit a ballot initiative that would enshrine the right to reproductive health freedom in the state constitution to go before voters.  

The very next day, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries hosted the Democratic Committee on Reproductive Freedom at a field hearing in Broward County, where Florida resident Deborah Dobert bravely shared her own painful experience with abortion restrictions during her nonviable pregnancy. State law forced Deborah to carry her pregnancy to term, inflicting months of physical discomfort and strains on her mental health, which persist as she and her family grieve the loss of their baby, who passed away just 94 minutes after birth. 

Following the harrowing story, panelist Dr. H. Joan Waitkevicz confirmed what Deborah’s case had laid so bare—exceptions to abortion bans don’t work for patients when tragedy strikes. Instead, they just send the cruel message that some who seek abortions are worthy, and some are not. Dr. Ian Joseph Bishop, an OB-GYN in Florida, offered a chilling reflection: he couldn’t recall the last time a patient in his clinic came in prior to six weeks into their pregnancy. After all, many people don’t even know they’re pregnant yet at that stage. 

A recent Ipsos poll shows that 55 percent of Floridians oppose a six-week abortion ban, which suggests that on a broader scale, state legislators failed to deliver democracy to the people of Florida with this law. To change the trajectory of reproductive justice in Florida, abortion advocates will need approval from 60 percent of voters—a steep hill to climb in the legal terrain of constitutional amendments. Yet, there is hope: the same Ipsos poll found that three in five voters support such an amendment, which suggests that for Floridians, reproductive freedom may soon be within reach.