ORLANDO, Fla. — A Republican state lawmaker from Volusia County has filed a bill that would ban many abortions in the state, similar to Texas' bill.
What You Need To Know
- Volusia legislator proposes bill that would ban many abortions in Florida
- The measure would ban abortions once a heartbeat is detected
- Rep. Anna Eskamani says it would take away women's autonomy over own bodies
- Florida's next legislative session begins Jan. 11, 2022
State Rep. Barnaby Webster of Florida House District 27 filed HB 167 Wednesday. The Florida Legislature would take it up next January.
The bill would ban doctors from performing abortions once a heartbeat is detected in the fetus, and it would provide for penalties for failing to do so.
Similar attempts have failed in the Florida Legislature before, but earlier this month, Florida House Speaker Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, said the legislature would consider such a bill.
State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-District 47, said she would oppose the measure.
As a former employee of Planned Parenthood, Eskamani has been fighting for abortion rights and other women’s health-care issues for years.
“We’re here to protect access to health care and protect bodily autonomy and allow folks to make personal decisions about their lives,” said Eskamani, whose district includes Orlando.
She said she’s not shocked but disappointed following the filing of the bill, which would also allow for private civil litigation against individuals who help another get an abortion after six weeks.
Spectrum News 13 caught up with Barnaby to ask a few questions about his proposed legislation, which he named the "Florida Heartbeat Act," but he declined to comment.
His office also did not respond to a call asking for a comment.
Eskamani said the state constitution has strong right-to-privacy language and has been used to stop abortion restrictions in the past.
“This is not a partisan issue, and so to see a Republican man file a bill that is so extreme, that strips away my bodily autonomy and that of my peers, is a slap in the face to half of this state and anyone who cares about women’s health,” Eskamani said.
Opponents of the bill are going to do whatever they can, which includes reaching across the aisle to Republicans, to stop the bill from becoming law, she said.
“We have been ready for this moment, and we’re just getting started in fighting back against it,” Eskamani said.
Texas passed its abortion bill, which was signed into law in May. It was challenged in court, but the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene, which other states see as their chance to pass similar laws.
The U.S. Justice Department is challenging Texas' law, but nothing is blocking it from moving forward.
In December, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the legality of Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks.
Eskamani said she is paying close attention to that case because it could affect what happens in Florida.
Meanwhile, Florida's next legislative session begins Jan. 11, 2022.