New reporting from CNN underscores the heartbreaking reality of Ron DeSantis’s extreme abortion ban, and the impacts it’s having on Florida women. This heartbreaking story is only one of many from women in Florida who have been unable to access the care they needed because of DeSantis’s extreme abortion ban and the criminal penalties for doctors who violate the bans.
A Florida woman, unable to get an abortion in her state, carried to term a baby who had no kidneys.
Deborah Dorbert’s son Milo died in her arms on March 3, shortly after he was born, just as her doctors had predicted he would.
“He gasped for air a couple of times when I held him,” said Dorbert, 33. “I watched my child take his first breath, and I held him as he took his last one.”
She said her pregnancy was proceeding normally until November, when, at 24 weeks, an ultrasound showed that the fetus did not have kidneys and that she had hardly any amniotic fluid. Not only was the baby sure to die, her doctors told her, but the pregnancy put her at especially high risk of preeclampsia, a potentially deadly complication.
Her doctors told her it was too late to terminate the pregnancy in Florida, which bans nearly all abortions after 15 weeks. The only options were to go out of state to get an abortion or to carry the baby to full term, and Dorbert and her husband didn’t have the money to travel.
What followed was an agonizing 13 weeks of carrying a baby she knew would die and worrying about her own health. It left Dorbert with severe anxiety and depression for the first time in her life.
Florida law allows abortions after 15 weeks if two doctors confirm the diagnosis of a fatal fetal abnormality in writing, but doctors in Florida and states with similar laws have been hesitant to terminate such pregnancies for fear someone will question whether the abnormality was truly fatal. The penalties for violating the law are severe: Doctors can go to prison and face heavy fines and legal fees.
Last month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law an even more restrictive measure that would ban most abortions in the state after six weeks, with an exception for fatal fetal abnormalities. The law won’t go into effect until the state Supreme Court overturns its precedent on abortion or tosses out a case challenging state abortion restrictions.