A Republican state lawmaker in Florida is proposing a bill that would copy the state of Texas’s restrictive new anti-abortion law, which has so far avoided scrutiny from the United States Supreme Court by allowing enforcement of its provisions to be carried out by private citizens.
The proposed Florida law would act similarly, letting individuals, rather than the state, take action by suing people who provide abortion services or otherwise help someone obtain an abortion — a medical procedure that is a person’s right to access for any reason.
The legislation, filed on Wednesday by state Rep. Webster Barnaby (R), would ban all abortions in the state after a so-called “fetal heartbeat” is detected, granting exceptions only for rape, incest, or considerations for the health of the pregnant person. Like the Texas state statute, the bill would incentivize individuals to sue doctors who provide abortions — as well as anyone else who aids a pregnant person seeking an abortion — for amounts of up to $10,000, which many have described as a situation created to incentivize vigilantes and bounty hunters.
Republicans in Florida have signaled they are likely to support the legislation proposed by Barnaby. GOP state Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls said that he’s in favor of any legislation that restricts abortion access, so long as it can withstand “judicial scrutiny.” Earlier this month, the Texas law was able to do just that when the Supreme Court’s conservative bloc majority refused to place a stay on the near-total abortion ban.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office also suggested it would be open to the bill, after describing the concept proposed by Texas as “interesting” earlier this month.
“The Governor’s office is aware that the bill was filed today and like all legislation, we will be monitoring it as it moves through the legislative process in the coming months,” a spokesperson for the Republican governor said.
Democratic lawmakers are adamantly opposed to the bill, with State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D) noting it was in violation of both federal regulations and Florida’s constitutional provisions on privacy.
“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.
Indeed, polling indicates that most people in the U.S. are opposed to laws like the one implemented in Texas, which Republicans in Florida appear to be heading toward endorsing. For instance, a recent Monmouth University poll found that 70 percent of Americans opposed the Texas anti-abortion law, while only 22 percent said they supported it.
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