TAMPA (WFLA) – Florida lawmakers will consider abortion legislation in this upcoming session similar to a new law passed in Texas.
The Texas law bans abortions after ‘cardiac activity’ is detected, which doctors say can happen as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before the embryo’s heart is fully formed and before many women know they are pregnant.
The law creates an unusual enforcement scheme: rather than state officials enforcing the law, private citizens are incentivized to sue abortion providers and anyone else who “aids and abets” a woman having an abortion after that time. That could include therapists, friends, church officials, rape counselors, or a ride-share driver who takes the woman to an abortion clinic. The woman who has the abortion cannot be sued.
Under the law, anyone who successfully sues another person would be entitled to at least $10,000. There are no exceptions for girls or women who are raped or survivors of incest.
Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) says state legislators will introduce a similar measure in the upcoming legislative session.
“When the Supreme Court goes out and makes a decision like this, it clearly is going to send a signal to all the states that are interested in banning abortions or making it more restrictive to have an abortion,” Simpson said.
Simpson did not commit to excluding victims of rape or incest in a Florida bill, but he noted previous abortion legislation in the state has included those exceptions. He also said he does not support the $10,000 incentive.
“Certainly that’s not something I would support, neighbor telling on neighbor or calling in, things of that nature,” Simpson said. “We have privacy in this state for a reason.”
Late Wednesday night, a deeply divided Supreme Court voted 5-4 to deny an emergency appeal to the Texas law.
State Senator Annette Taddeo (D-Miami-Dade County) says this law creates incentives that violate a woman’s privacy.
“Unfortunately it’s not surprising but it’s disappointing. Clearly, this law in Texas is draconian,” Taddeo said.
The White House issued a statement from President Joe Biden on Thursday, calling the Supreme Court’s decision “an unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade” that “unleashes unconstitutional chaos and empowers self-anointed enforcers to have devastating impacts.”