A Florida state representative has sponsored House Bill 167 (HB 167) in the Florida legislature, which copies in every pertinent regard the provisions of the recent Texas heartbeat law that went into effect September 1.
HB 167, titled the “Florida Heartbeat Act,” contains the same unique features of the Texas law that, thus far, has managed to avoid being blocked by the courts:
- It requires an abortionist to test for a fetal heartbeat and prohibits abortion if one is detected.
- It allows private citizens to sue an abortionist or anyone complicit in the abortion (other than the mother) in Florida’s state courts.
- It provides for a damage award to the successful private litigant in the amount of $10,000.
- It specifically excludes all Florida state and local government officials from being involved in any enforcement of the law. (Typical abortion statutes are enforced by identifiable state officials, thus allowing the courts to pre-emptively issue injunctions blocking those officials from enforcing the law before it even goes into effect.)
- It allows a lawsuit to be filed within six years of the abortion. (Texas requires suit to be filed within four years).
Planned Parenthood reacted as you might expect.
“The newly filed Texas-style abortion ban makes abortion everyone’s business but your own. This unconstitutional bill would ban abortion at six weeks — before most people even know they’re pregnant — and it means that many Florida patients simply wouldn’t be able to get an abortion. No one’s most personal medical decisions should be controlled by politicians or anyone else,” Laura Goodhue, Executive Director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates said, as reported by ClickOrlando.com.
Florida was one of several states expected to introduce bills similar to the Texas law. The ongoing success of the Texas law might encourage other pro-life states to jump on the bandwagon. Estimates of babies being saved in Texas because of the new law range from 100 to 150 per day.
Another encouraging sign from Texas is a report that abortionists are leaving the state rather than risk any potential liability from lawsuits filed against them. And women are not being left to fend for themselves when experiencing an unexpected pregnancy. The Texas legislature recently increased funding for programs to help women find alternatives to abortion from $80 million to $100 million. And pregnancy resource centers abound in Texas, standing ready to come alongside the mothers (and fathers) who need assistance.
If enacted into law, the Florida Heartbeat Act would take effect on July 1, 2021.
Photo from Shutterstock.