An anti-abortion bill that would ban abortions after an embryonic heartbeat is detected, about six weeks, and allow citizens to sue doctors who perform them, modeled after Texas’s abortion ban SB8, was introduced in Florida on Wednesday.
Filed by the Republican representative Webster Barnaby, the bill allows people to sue practitioners and others who aid people seeking abortions up to six months after an abortion was performed versus only four months allocated in Texas’s SB8. The implications of the bill have alarmed many concerned about the role of anti-abortion vigilante lawsuits.
Previous attempts to pass such restrictive abortion laws in Florida had failed, but the supreme court’s decision not to block Texas’s anti-abortion law has ignited new attempts to pass anti-choice legislation across the country. In addition to Florida, Republican leaders in at least five other states have said that they are interested in passing legislation similar to the Texas abortion ban.
After the supreme court’s widely criticized decision, Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, and other Republican lawmakers echoed their support for the bill and interest in replicating it in the Sunshine state.
“I have always fought for unborn babies and their right to life, and the Florida house of representatives has been a national leader in developing pro-life legislation,” said the Florida house speaker, Chris Sprowls, via a spokesperson following the supreme court decision. “Our laws have to be strong enough to jump through multiple levels of judicial scrutiny. We look forward to bringing to the floor a bill that saves every unborn life possible.”
Barnaby’s office did not return a request for comment from the Associated Press.
Florida Democrats have condemned the new legislation, including the agriculture commissioner, Nikki Fried, who announced her run for governor of Florida next year against DeSantis.
“This bill is dangerous, radical, and unconstitutional. The hypocrisy of this attempt by Governor [Ron] DeSantis and Republicans in the state legislature to take away our rights while at the same time preaching ‘my body, my choice’ when it comes to wearing masks is absolutely disgusting,” said Fried in a statement.