HB 167, if passed, would require abortionists to check for a baby’s heartbeat before deciding to carry out an abortion, and prohibits them from “knowingly performing” an abortion if they detect a fetal heartbeat or fail to perform the test. The baby’s heartbeat is ordinarily detectable by about six weeks gestation.
The Florida bill, introduced by Rep. Webster Barnaby (R-27), also mirrors the Texas Heartbeat Act’s private method of enforcement. It would allow people to sue those who perform the abortion or knowingly “aid or abe[t]” the abortion by paying for or reimbursing its cost through insurance or other means. It would not allow prosecution of the woman who sought the abortion.
“Like the Texas law, the Florida legislation does not include exceptions for pregnancies that occur from rape or incest, but makes an exception if a physician believes a ‘medical emergency’ exists,” ABC News noted.
The bill amends Florida statutes to replace the term “fetus” with “unborn child,” and expressly states that it does not “create or recognize a right to abortion before a fetal heartbeat is detected.”
If passed, the bill would save thousands upon thousands of lives. Most abortions in the United States are committed after six weeks gestation.
The Texas Heartbeat Act effectively banned “Eighty-five percent of abortions that previously would have been occurring,” The Federalist reported, saving about 100 babies a day.
As NBC reported, after the Texas abortion ban was enacted, “all 11 of the Planned Parenthood health centers in Texas” had “stopped scheduling visits” for “abortions past six weeks of pregnancy,” and that Whole Woman’s Health said its four clinics in Texas would also comply with the law.
Eleven states, including Florida, “have announced intentions or plans to model legislation after” the Texas Heartbeat Act, according to ABC News.
Some doctors claim that unborn children at six weeks gestation don’t have a “real” heartbeat, because their heart valves are not yet fully formed, and so their hearts do not yet make the noise produced by the opening and closing of those valves.
Yet video footage of the unborn child shows that already at four and a half weeks, children have a rapidly beating heart pumping blood and nutrients throughout their bodies. The heart can be seen changing color as blood enters and leaves its chambers with each beat.
Mothers typically have their first visit with an OB-GYN when they are six, seven, or eight weeks pregnant, and presence of a fetal heartbeat is one of the first things the doctor checks as a marker of a healthy unborn baby at that age.
Florida State Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a long-time proponent of heartbeat bills in the state, said of this most recent effort, “It’s time to start saving the lives of innocent unborn children in Florida.” He accused “Republicans in name only” – RINOs – of having “stopped progress every step of the way” in previous attempts at proposing a heartbeat law in the state.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on Texas’s heartbeat law on November 1, 2021. The court could rule on it – and Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban – anytime between now and June 2022.