Reported by ALEX NITZBERG | September 22, 2021
Republican Florida state Rep. Webster Barnaby has filed a bill to ban abortions in the Sunshine State after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, except in the case of medical emergencies. The bill includes text that substantially mirrors the language in a Texas law which has been the subject of national attention. Like the Texas law, the bill put forward in the Sunshine State would prohibit physicians from knowingly conducting or inducing abortions if they have not tested for an unborn child’s heartbeat or if they detect such a heartbeat.
The Florida bill, like the Lone Star State’s law, would allow people to lodge a civil action against an individual who conducts or induces an abortion in breach of the law, and against those who knowingly participate in activity which “aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion” conducted in breach of the law, “regardless of whether the person knew or should have known that the abortion would be performed or induced” against the law. And like the Texas law, the Florida bill says that the court should award claimants who prevail in such an action with damages of at least $10,000.
The Florida bill would also alter the state’s abortion law language to swap the term “fetus” for the phrase “unborn child.”
The Orlando chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America issued a tweet decrying the bill as “evil.” Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani blasted the pro-life bill, issuing a statement in which she used the phrase “birthing people.”
“It’s a sad day in the Florida House when legislation like HB167 is filed. This gross excuse of a bill attacks women and birthing people who are seeking an abortion before they even know they are pregnant. It also attempts to mimic Texas by creating a process for civil action towards those that help someone in Florida end a pregnancy after 6 weeks. Extreme attacks on reproductive health are not about policy, it is about control, shame, and will negatively impact communities who already experience barriers to accessing care.”