Florida Republicans introduce copycat version of extreme Texas abortion ban

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis previously called the Texas law 'interesting' and said he would 'look more significantly at it.'

A Republican state legislator in Florida filed a bill on Wednesday that would ban abortions in the state before many people even know they're pregnant, as well as deputize private citizens to enforce it by authorizing a bounty-like system.

The legislation is nearly identical to the nearly total ban on abortion that went into effect in Texas earlier in September.

Like the Texas law, the Florida bill seeks to ban abortions once the cellular electrical activity that politicians mislabel "cardiac activity" can be detected — usually around six weeks' gestation. Given that pregnancy is calculated from the first day of the last menstrual cycle, that gives people just two weeks to decide they want an abortion, obtain an appointment, and undergo the procedure — and that's only if someone finds out they are pregnant on the day they miss their period.

According to the Florida bill, which was introduced by GOP Rep. Webster Barnaby, a "physician may not knowingly perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman unless the physician has determined, in accordance with this section, whether the woman's unborn child has a detectable fetal heartbeat."

Once the electrical activity is detected, the procedure would no longer be legal.

The nearly total ban on abortion would have the same enforcement mechanism as the Texas law, deputizing private citizens to file lawsuits against anyone who "knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion."

Both the Florida bill and the Texas law contain provisions stating that if a private citizen successfully sues someone who aids or abets an abortion procedure, they will receive damages of "at least $10,000," as well as funds to cover attorneys fees and other costs associated with the lawsuit.

Republican officials across the country previously vowed to pass abortion bans similar to the one in Texas after the Supreme Court allowed the Texas law to go into effect, despite the fact that it clearly violates Roe v. Wade.

Among those Republicans was Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Earlier in September, DeSantis, who supports overturning Roe v. Wade, called the Texas law "interesting" and said that he was "going to look more significantly at it."

Abortion providers say the Texas law is effectively an outright ban on nearly all abortions, as many people don't even know they are pregnant at six weeks' gestation. Data from abortion rights groups says that between 85% to 90% of abortions are performed after that six-week cutoff.

It's unclear whether the Texas law will remain on the books permanently, as it is still being litigated through the court system. Opponents are using creative methods to try to overturn the law, filing two lawsuits against a doctor who admitted to performing an abortion in the Texas after the six-week pregnancy mark in the hope that the suits will lead judges to strike the law down altogether, the New York Times reported.

Political analysts say extreme abortion policies like the law in Texas could hurt the GOP's electoral chances in the 2022 election by mobilizing the critical suburban women voting bloc against Republican candidates.

Polling shows specifically that women voters do not approve of the Texas law and support abortion rights more broadly.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.