As Florida’s Heartbeat Protection Act took effect on May 1, 2024, pregnancy centers across the state prepared to manage an increase in their clientele, many of whom will have an increased sense of urgency.

The law, which was passed in 2023 and upheld by a recent state supreme court decision, bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Previously, in the wake of Dobbs, Florida had banned most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

While the Heartbeat Protection Act was welcomed by the pro-life community, the celebration has been tempered due to the Florida State Supreme Court’s other key abortion ruling on April 1. On that day, the court allowed the Floridians Protecting Freedom Abortion Constitutional Amendment to be included on the November 2024 ballot. The amendment’s summary language states: “No law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider.”

If the measure passes by a 60 percent majority, the Sunshine state could quickly go from light to darkness when it comes to abortion availability.

In the meantime, pregnancy centers are remarkably busy adjusting to the Heartbeat Protection Act. On May 1, approximately 30 Florida pregnancy centers joined a Google Meet call to discuss the implications of the new law, share resources, and pray together. According to a World Magazine article regarding the meeting, pro-life pregnancy centers in Florida are expecting to see an increase in women coming to them for help, and an increase in babies being born; The centers say the six-week cutoff will make many of these women feel pressured to make a quick decision, requiring centers to be ready to see clients sooner.

Marilyn Paul, executive director of Options for Women, organized the Google Meet call.

“This is what we’ve been praying for a long, long time,” she told WORLD. Options for Women, which operates clinics in Florida, is part of Care Net’s network of 1,300 pregnancy centers.

Charles DiMarco, President and CEO of New Life Solutions in the Tampa, Florida area (another Care Net-affiliated center), said although six weeks is lower than 15 weeks, the new Heartbeat Protection Act creates some unique challenges for pregnancy centers to reach women in need at their most desperate time.

“The new legislation will not eliminate a woman’s intent to have an abortion, but will make her feel like she has to act faster, giving pregnancy centers a smaller window of time to engage with her,” said via email with Care Net.

DiMarco stressed the need for pregnancy centers to continually innovate and expand services to meet the need and the trends. As an example, New Life Solutions has introduced abortion pill reversal services and mental health counseling services to help the increasing number of women who have undergone chemical abortions.

Like everyone in the Florida pro-life community, DiMarco is extremely disappointed with the state supreme court’s decision to include a pro-abortion amendment on the ballot in November.

“The deceptively titled initiative (Amendment to Limit Government Interference with Abortion) limits nothing and allows for abortion-on-demand until the moment of birth, endangering the health and well-being of women,” he said.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, warns that much work lies ahead in protecting children and their mothers from Florida’s late-term abortion amendment.

“Florida’s Heartbeat Protection Act is an enormous victory for women and children, set to protect 50,000 lives a year starting today (May 1), while it has already expanded critical support for Florida’s life-affirming safety net,” she said. “These and other protections that the people of Florida greatly desire must be preserved from Big Abortion’s deceptive amendment to enshrine no-limits abortion in the state constitution.”

“The [Floridians Protecting Freedom Abortion Constitutional Amendment], which would allow abortion throughout the second and third trimesters, eviscerate health protections for women, and remove parental consent, is far too extreme for Florida. We must sound the alarm about the far-reaching implications of the abortion industry’s scheme to grow their profits at the expense of babies’ lives and the safety of women and girls.”