TALLAHASSEE, Florida (LifeSiteNews) — The GOP-led Florida Senate on Monday voted to pass an abortion restriction bill which would ban the deadly practice after a baby’s heartbeat can be detected. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has repeatedly committed to signing pro-life laws and has specifically affirmed that he would sign a heartbeat bill if it landed on his desk.
The legislation would prohibit the deliberate killing of an unborn baby after his heartbeat can be detected, which is usually about six weeks’ gestation.
The measure would also block abortionists from using telehealth services to facilitate chemical abortions remotely and allocate $30 million to bolster state support for families, providing “counseling or mentoring services as well as providing non-medical material assistance to families such as car seats, cribs, clothing, formula, and diapers.”
SB 300 has the potential to sharply reduce the number of abortions committed in Florida, which has seen a recent uptick in abortions as neighboring states implement broad legislation to protect the unborn.
The bill’s success came after Republicans previously shot down 18 Democrat-proposed amendments that would have softened the measure on Thursday.
However, they approved an amendment exempting victims of human trafficking from the heartbeat standard, Gainesville-based local news outlet WUFT reported. In cases of rape, incest, or human trafficking, therefore, only the state’s 15-week abortion ban would apply. Instances of pregnancy as a result of rape or incest are extremely rare, and pro-life advocates point out that a baby’s right to life is not determined by the circumstances of his conception.
“The Heartbeat Protection Act will make Florida a beacon of hope for those who understand that life is sacred and must be protected,” said Sen. Erin Grall, the bill’s sponsor, in an April 3 statement. “This bill represents an unprecedented opportunity to protect innocent life, and to stand with the brave moms who choose life for their babies.”
“For 50 years, it was legal in this country to kill unborn children, and during that time, abortion has touched every single one of us,” she continued. “We have to grieve for what we have done as a country. This bill makes certain our laws reflect the strongest protections for innocent life.”
In a press release shared with LifeSiteNews, Florida Right to Life president Lynda Bell said SB 300 “puts Florida more in line with the surrounding states like Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Georgia,” and “will help [s]top ‘abortion tourism’ whereby women and girls come into nearby Florida to obtain an abortion to avoid the laws of their states.”
“This bill also provides much needed support for pregnant women,” Bell said. “This is a great day.”
Meanwhile, the measure has riled opponents of efforts to enshrine legislative protections for the unborn.
In a March 20 statement, Florida Democratic state Sen. Linda Stewart lamented that the bill was “equivalent to an outright ban on abortion,” calling it “a direct attack on our fundamental and reproductive healthcare rights.”
“Just over a year after reducing the number of weeks to obtain an abortion to 15, the legislature has once again decided to take up the issue of women’s bodily autonomy by looking to reduce the already limiting time constraint to a mere six weeks,” she said.
The introduction and Senate approval of Florida’s heartbeat bill comes as the state’s 15-week ban has been beset by court challenges since DeSantis signed it into law in April 2022, with abortionists arguing the measure violates the state constitution.
Thanks to a decades-old state Supreme Court ruling, Florida currently recognizes a “right to abortion” under the state constitution’s privacy amendment, effectively preventing the passage of meaningful statewide pro-life laws.
However, Florida’s Supreme Court may now be in a position to overrule its 1989 decision, thanks to DeSantis’ conservative judicial appointments and the U.S. Supreme Court’s June overthrow of Roe v. Wade, which had established a federal “right to abortion” in all 50 states.
Florida’s Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to the state’s 15-week ban in January, potentially paving a way for the rollback of the statewide “right to abortion” and changing the trajectory of pro-life legislation in Florida. The Court has allowed the state to continue enforcing the law, at least until it reaches a final verdict.
If signed by DeSantis, Florida’s heartbeat law would take effect 30 days after the Supreme Court affirms that pro-life laws do not violate the state constitution.