It didn’t take long for Florida Republicans to follow in the footsteps of their Texas counterparts.
Central Florida legislator Webster Barnaby introduced an anti-abortion bill, called “The Heartbeat Act,” that would ban nearly all abortions in the state, and much like the Texas statute, would allow doctors who performed the procedure to be sued.
Barnaby, a GOP representative from Deltona in Volusia County did not comment on the bill he filed. But state Democrats like Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is looking to run for Governor next year, denounced the legislation as “dangerous, radical, and unconstitutional.”
The attempt by Florida Republicans to enact their own law that would essentially ban abortions is expected to be repeated in other states with GOP-led legislatures. The passing of the Texas law and the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to not block the Texas measure has energized Republicans in states such as Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota to discuss passing their own abortion laws that mirror the unorthodox structure of the Texas law.
That law bans abortion when a so-called “fetal heartbeat” is detected, or about six weeks into pregnancy, which is before many women realize they are pregnant.
The Associated Press writes that a heartbeat at that early a stage may not actually be an indicator of life.
Medical experts say the cardiac activity is not an actual heartbeat but rather an initial flutter of electric activity within cells in an embryo. They say the heart doesn’t begin to form until the fetus is at least nine weeks old, and they decry efforts to promote abortion bans by relying on medical inaccuracies.
DeSantis said he thought the proposed Florida law was interesting and said his office will review it. Republican Senate President Wilton Simpson has also expressed support. GOP House Speaker Chris Sprowls also is in favor or more abortion restrictions, but he issued a statement saying any new legislation must be built to withstand “multiple levels of judicial scrutiny.”
The bill brought forward by Barnaby would ban abortions after cardiac activity is detected. It would also require that all references to “fetus” in the Florida’s abortion laws be changed to “unborn child.”
Much like Texas’ law, the Florida bill would also provide financial incentive for other citizens to sue those who perform or aid in illegal abortions. It would allow $10,000 civil penalties per abortion for any doctor who performs abortions, as well any defendants who “aided or abetted” the procedure. There would be a six-year period after an illegal abortion is performed to allow people to file a lawsuit.