On Wednesday, Florida state Rep. Webster Barnaby introduced legislation that copies Texas’ six week limit on legal abortions. The Supreme Court ruled in early September against blocking the Texas law from going into effect, a move that will likely enable the passage of similar laws, especially in GOP led states like Florida.
The Florida bill bans physicians from performing abortions following the detection of fetal cardiac activity, which generally happens around six weeks from conception. Additionally, like the Texas bill, the Florida legislation includes a provision that anyone, with the exception of a government employee, can bring a civil lawsuit against any individual who either performs an abortion in violation of the ban or “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets” an abortion.
The plaintiff would also be eligible to receive a minimum of $10,000 in damages for each violation. A difference between the two states’ bills, however, is that the proposed Florida legislation offers exemptions to those seeking abortions in the instance of rape, incest, domestic violence, human trafficking, or a health condition that threatens the mother.
The Texas law, also called SB 8, went into effect on the first of September, which became the most restrictive abortion law in the country. While the Supreme Court did not rule on the law before it was enacted, a 5-4 decision came forth the day after saying the court chose not to block enforcement of the law.
The majority opinion did acknowledge, though, that the group of abortion providers who brought the petition “have raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law at issue.” So far, there have only been two lawsuits filed as a result of SB 8, both of which were brought against a doctor who admitted in an op-ed published by the Washington Post to intentionally violating the law.
Going forward, other GOP led states will likely pass similar legislation. John Seago, the legislative director of Texas Right to Life, told Forbes that he was working with legislators in three other states to craft bills similar to SB 8. State leaders in Arkansas, South Dakota, North
Dakota, Mississippi, and Indiana have already signaled their intent or interest in modeling their own laws after the Texas law. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will be “monitoring [the Florida bill] as it moves through the legislative process in the coming months,” according to Taryn Fenske, a spokesperson for the Governor.
DeSantis signed a brief in July with nine other Republican governors asking the Supreme Court to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, so many expect that he will sign the new Florida bill as well. Wilton Simpson, State Senate President, said that Florida lawmakers were “already working on” their own fetal heartbeat bill when the Texas law took effect.