Just days after the Supreme Court held a hearing on a Mississippi abortion ban that could pave the way for overturning Roe v. Wade and protecting babies from abortion, Florida lawmakers are promoting legislation there that would ban abortions when an unborn baby’s heart starts beating.
The legislation is similar to a new pro-life ban in Texas that allows private lawsuits to uphold the measure, and that pro-life law has already saved as many as 10,000 babies from abortion.
Rep. Webster Barnaby, R-Deltona, introduced the Florida Heartbeat Act to protect unborn babies from abortion.
Similar to the Texas heartbeat law, Florida House Bill 167 would require abortionists to check for an unborn baby’s heartbeat before doing an abortion and prohibit the abortion if they detect a heartbeat. Typically an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable by about six weeks of pregnancy.
The bill also includes a provision unique to the Texas law that would allow private citizens to enforce it by suing abortionists who abort unborn babies with detectable heartbeats or fail to check for a heartbeat before doing the abortion.
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“… a fetal heartbeat is a key medical predictor that an unborn child will reach live birth, and cardiac activity begins at a biologically identifiable moment in time, normally when the fetal heart is formed in the gestational sac,” the bill states. It also emphasizes that Florida has a compelling interest in “protecting the health of the woman and the life of the unborn child.”
HB 167 is already in a subcommittee, it would require doctors to conduct a test and inform a pregnant woman of a heartbeat. Doctors say that could happen at 6 weeks. Once detected that would prohibit an abortion. People would also be able to file a lawsuit after an illegal abortion is performed, it mirrors a Texas law that is also expected to go before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“That bill is less likely to pass in Florida but what I do envision passing in Florida is something like the Mississippi law, which is a 15-week ban,” State Sen. Lori Berman.
State Senator Lori Berman told CBS 4, the latest hearing opened a door for Florida lawmakers to introduce new laws in the interim, laws that will make abortions nearly impossible.
“And if the Supreme Court rules in favor of a 15-week abortion ban then starting whenever the Supreme Court rules in favor of it that will become the law of the land,” she said.
Texas is the first state to be allowed to enforce a heartbeat law, and pro-life leaders estimate up to 100 babies are being saved from abortion every day in the state. All other state heartbeat laws have been blocked in court.
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers in Florida have expressed support for passing a similar law in their state.
Fox 29 reports state Senate President Wilton Simpson described the courts’ decisions not to block the law as an “encouraging” sign.
The Florida bill includes exceptions for rape, incest, domestic violence, human trafficking and threats to the mother’s life, according to News 6 Orlando.
Abortions almost completely have stopped in Texas since the law went into effect Sept. 1. In 2020, about 54,000 unborn babies were aborted in Texas, and about 85 percent happened after six weeks of pregnancy, according to state health statistics.
Meanwhile, pro-life advocates are reaching out to pregnant women across Texas with compassion and understanding, offering resources and emotional support to help them and their babies. Earlier this year, state lawmakers increased support for pregnant and parenting mothers and babies, ensuring that they have resources to choose life for their babies.