A Florida Republican introduced a bill to ban most abortions, following similar legislation that came into effect earlier this month in Texas.
The bill, introduced on Wednesday by State Representative Webster Barnaby, whose district includes Orange City, Fla., Echoes controversial provisions seen in Texas that would ban abortions upon detection of heart activity, normally six in eight weeks after the start of a pregnancy – before many women know they are pregnant.
As is the case in Texas, the law would be enforced by private citizens suing those who are deemed to have “aided or abetted” an abortion procedure. If the lawsuits are successful, those who bring them could earn a financial reward of at least $ 10,000.
The architects of the Texas law designed it this way to avoid a court blocking the ban before it could go into effect, and the unconventional approach worked.
While six-week bans in other states have been suspended pending litigation over whether they violate the right to a safe abortion in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court refused to stop the Texas law, saying the court could not intervene immediately because abortion providers had sued state officials – not private citizens charged with enforcing the ‘prohibition.
In some cases, the Florida bill goes further than Texas law, allowing asylum seekers six years after an abortion has been performed to file a complaint, instead of four. But unlike Texas, it allows exceptions for rape, incest, or life-threatening medical emergencies.
The Florida bill also wants to change all references to “fetus” in state abortion laws to “unborn”.
The nation remains sharply divided over abortion rights, with a growing number of Republican-led state legislatures trying to limit or ban the procedure. Some fear that Florida may be the first of many conservative states to emulate Texas’ legal measures.
Condemning what he called a Florida “copycat” bill, NARAL Pro-Choice America, which lobbies to protect abortion rights, said Florida was just one of 11 others. States where lawmakers had announced their intention or intention to follow Texas’s “vigilant abortion ban”. . “He named others like Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
“We are horrified to see anti-choice politicians in Florida following in Texas’ footsteps,” Adrienne Kimmell, interim president of NARAL, said in a statement. “The damage from these draconian attacks cannot be overstated and they most acutely affect those who already face the greatest barriers to accessing care. “
Barnaby did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Washington Post.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s office, a Republican, said the bill would be watched.
“Governor DeSantis is prolific,” DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske told the Washington Post on Thursday. “The governor’s office is aware that the bill was tabled today and like all legislation, we will be monitoring it as it evolves through the legislative process over the coming months.”
Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried, Democratic candidate for governor next year, strongly opposed the bill and said it was “time to fight like hell ”to avoid any ban.
“This bill is dangerous, radical and unconstitutional,” she said in a statement. “Obviously this is nothing more than a brazen attempt to try to control women and our bodies.”
The Supreme Court has scheduled arguments for Dec. 1 in a Mississippi case that involves a different abortion law and tests Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing the right to an abortion prior to viability, which is typically 22 to 24 weeks into a pregnancy.
At least two lawsuits have been filed in Texas that could also test the constitutionality of the ban. An excluded Arkansas lawyer Oscar Stilley sued a doctor, Alan Braid, a San Antonio doctor, who admitted to performing an abortion that was considered illegal under the new law. Stilley said he filed the lawsuit not because of strong views on reproductive rights, but in part because of the $ 10,000 he could receive if the lawsuit was successful. A second complaint filed Monday came from a Chicago man who asked a state court to overturn the abortion law as an invalid.
The Department of Justice has also sued the state of Texas in an attempt to block the abortion law. An Austin Federal District judge has given the state of Texas until September 29 to respond to the Department of Justice and has set a hearing date for October 1.