A Florida state House committee has passed a bill that would save babies from abortion by banning all abortions after 15 weeks. The bill is modeled on legislation from Mississippi that received a hearing before the Supreme Court in December and that pro-life advocates expect will be upheld.
The Florida House’s Professions and Public Health Subcommittee helped the bill take its first step towards becoming law as the panel voted along party lines 12-6 for the measure — with Republicans supporting the pro-life bill and Democrats opposing it.
The bill now heads to its next two hearings in the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee and Health & Human Services Committee.
“We know more today than ever about the development of children in the womb,” said Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach. “We will be saving nearly 5,000 babies a year with this bill in place.”
“Certainly at 15 weeks, you would have to define what’s happening in the womb as life,” Bob White with the Republican Liberty Caucus said after the vote.
And Andrew Shirvell of Florida Voice for the Unborn said, “today’s subcommittee vote in favor of the bill is a great step in the right direction. The bill sponsor, pro-life champion Rep. Erin Grall (R–Indian River and St. Lucie Counties), did a masterful job presenting it and defending it.”
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis began the new year by “welcoming” legislation to protect unborn babies’ right to life in his state. DeSantis did not endorse any specific pro-life bill but said he welcomes legislation to protect unborn babies’ right to life.
“I think there’s a lot of pro-life legislation, and we will be welcoming it,” DeSantis told reporters. “Having protections makes a lot of sense.”
During his State of the State address earlier in the day, he encouraged support for adoption and foster care as well as unborn babies.
“We have an opportunity to strengthen protections for the right to life, without which the other rights mean little,” he said. “Protecting life does not end with the unborn.”
Afterward, in response to a reporter’s question about a 15-week abortion ban, the Republican governor said it “makes a lot of sense” because unborn babies at that stage can feel “serious pain” and have heartbeats, according to the report.
A recent AP/NORC poll found strong public support for bans on abortion after the first trimester. Recent polls out of Texas and Missouri show support for earlier abortion bans, too.
The pro-life legislation would allow exceptions if the mother’s life is at risk or if the unborn baby has a fatal anomaly. It also would create new requirements for hospitals and abortion facilities to report data to the Florida Department of Health, including measures to help identify victims of human trafficking, to keep track of babies who are born alive in abortions and to reduce infant mortality.
Another pro-life bill up for consideration this year is the Florida Heartbeat Act, sponsored by state Rep. Webster Barnaby, R-Deltona. Similar to the Texas heartbeat law, state 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 similar 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.
The Texas law has stopped most abortions in the state since it went into effect in September, and pro-life leaders estimate thousands of unborn babies’ lives have been saved so far.
Currently, abortions in Florida are legal for any reason up to 24 weeks.
ACTION ALERT: Contact Florida state lawmakers and urge support for pro-life legislation banning abortions.