GOP Florida state Rep. Webster Barnaby on Wednesday, Sept. 22, introduced an abortion legislation bill similar to that of Texas.
Mirroring the Texas Heartbeat Act, the measure, HB167, seeks to prohibit abortion of six-week and older fetus, or typically when a fetal heartbeat can be detected unless it was for an emergency.
Tests are required to determine if the fetus has a heartbeat, with the woman then informed of the results. Doctors are not allowed to perform any procedure without the test results.
Like Texas, the bill allows private citizens to lodge a civil action against individuals who help a woman bypass the restrictions or not comply with the testing demand.
The Florida bill also picked up from its Texas counterpart that plaintiffs who prevail in such a lawsuit should be awarded at least $10,000 in damages.
Additionally, it aims to use the term “unborn child” to replace the word “fetus.”
HB167 is coined the Florida Heartbeat Act
The Texas version had proceeded to take effect earlier this month amid national outcry from Democrats and pro-choice groups, who believe a woman’s freedom of choice for her pregnancy is paramount.
Critics argued the six weeks is too narrow a timeline and usually too early for most women to be aware of their pregnancy.
Republicans and pro-life groups praised the bill for supporting the sacredness of a chance of life. After the Texas legislation went into effect, many voiced their intentions to follow its precedent.
With Governor Ron DeSantis (R) of the Sunshine State already calling the Texas bill “interesting,” it is likely that he would support the legislation, according to Florida Politics.
Speaking of the disparities in freedom of choice in terms of pregnancy and COVID-19 protocols, DeSantis said the bill was a matter of “protecting another life.”
“Well, I think the difference is between—the right to life is that another life is at stake. Whereas whether you’re doing stuff is really … if you’ve put something in your body or not, it doesn’t affect other people,” he said after noting he had not read Barnaby’s legislation.
“At the end of the day, government was instituted for certain reasons, to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” he stated.
Same as the Texas law, HB167 also sparked fury among proponents of women’s choice as a priority.
“It’s a sad day in the Florida House when legislation like HB167 is filed,” Orlando Democratic Rep. Anna V. Eskamani derided. “This gross excuse of a bill attacks women and birthing people who are seeking an abortion before they even know they are pregnant.”