A Florida Senate committee advanced heartbeat legislation today that could save tens of thousands of unborn babies from abortion every year and make the state the next to ban abortions.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says he would sign the bill into law to protect women and unborn babies.
The Florida Senate Health Policy Committee today approved SB 300 by a 7-4 vote to protect unborn babies with a heartbeat and support nonprofits that provide resources for pregnant women and new moms. The bill now heads to the Fiscal Policy Committee.
The legislation would protect unborn babies by banning most abortions once their heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy. Exceptions would be allowed for rape, incest and cases when the mother’s life is at risk or to avert “serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment.”
The pro-life bill also allocates $25 million for Florida pregnancy centers, which serve more than 76,000 women, men, youth and families annually. The centers offer free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, medical exams, counseling, parent classes, financial classes, and resources such as food, diapers, clothing, and financial assistance for housing and utilities. The bill also provides for exceptions including rape, incest, and life of the mother and requires that risky abortion pills be distributed by a physician in person.
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According to a new poll, 62% of Floridians support legislation to protect unborn babies when a heartbeat is detected, with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. Sixty-one percent of Independents and 58% of women also back the measure.
The bill is based on the scientific fact that an unborn baby’s heart begins beating at 14-22 days after conception and can be dected at six weeks.
Charlotte Lozier Institute associate scholar Katrina Furth, Ph.D., a developmental biologist, attended the hearing to explain the science behind fetal development. In her written testimony, she shared: “Anyone who denies that a preborn child is alive and has a beating heart at six weeks’ gestation is blatantly ignoring the science. . . Researchers have found that the presence of a heartbeat at 6-8 weeks indicates that the preborn child has a very high chance of surviving to childbirth, with different studies finding survival rates between 86% and 98%.”
Kathi Aultman, M.D., a Charlotte Lozier Institute associate scholar from Jacksonville, retired board-certified OB-GYN, and former Planned Parenthood medical director whose experience preforming abortions led her to a pro-life position, also provided testimony during the hearing.
During testimony, Dr. Aultman said: “Abortion not only kills innocent human beings; it damages women, and I have personally seen that damage. . . At six weeks we have a very concrete sign of life that Floridians can identify with, the heartbeat. A baby with a beating heart deserves protection under Florida law.”
Other parts of the bill prohibit state taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for abortion travel and require abortion drugs to be provided in person by a licensed medical doctor.
Currently, abortions are legal for any reason up to 15 weeks, and tens of thousands of unborn babies are aborted every year, including 82,192 last year alone, according to state health statistics.
After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, Florida became an abortion destination for women in neighboring states that banned abortions. But that could change if the heartbeat bill passes.
Most abortions are done after the unborn baby’s heart is beating, and the legislation could save tens of thousands of lives every year. Pro-life advocates expressed optimism about the bill, noting how Republicans control the legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis recently promised to support stronger protections for babies in the womb.
“The fight for life has momentum in Florida,” said SBA Pro-Life America southern regional director Caitlin Connors on Thursday. “We thank Rep. Jenna Persons Mulicka for sponsoring this bill and all of the House members who voted for life this morning. This is the first step to saving tens of thousands of babies each year in Florida.”
A recent poll commissioned by SBA Pro-Life America and the Florida Family Policy Council found strong public support for the legislation, with 62 percent of Floridians in favor. This included 71 percent of independents and 65 percent of women.
Florida has been making progress for life in recent months. DeSantis signed a law to ban abortions after 15 weeks in 2022, and he recently promised to support even stronger protections for babies in the womb. He also supports eliminating the sales tax on baby supplies, including diapers, wipes, cribs and strollers.
Last year, his administration shut down a Pensacola abortion facility after state health inspectors said it nearly killed three women in botched abortions within a span of nine months.
Then, earlier this month, state Attorney General Ashley Moody won another victory for life when a federal judge said the state may defund the billion-dollar abortion chain Planned Parenthood.