TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida lawmaker has filed an abortion bill similar to the law recently passed in Texas.
Fla. Rep. Webster Barnaby (R-Volusia) filed HB 167, the “Florida Heartbeat Act,” on Wednesday. It would forbid a physician from performing an abortion “if the physician detected a fetal heartbeat for the unborn child.” Doctors say that can be as early as six weeks.
The bill defines a “fetal hearbeat” as “cardiac activity or the steady and repetitive rhythmic contraction of the fetal heart within the gestational sac.”
Some exceptions do apply to the abortion restrictions. In cases of medical emergency, an abortion may be performed, but the physician performing the procedure must document the medical necessity and specify the woman’s condition that would require the abortion be induced. If the abortion is performed and the physician’s conclusion does not state that maternal health is a purpose of the abortion, the doctor will have to maintain records for it.
The bill, in a manner similar to Texas’s own abortion law, provides non-government entities the ability to bring civil lawsuits for those who aid or abet abortions performed after the restrictions are in place.
Specifically, anyone who is not an officer or employee of a state or local governmental entity can bring a civil action against someone who performs or induces an abortion in violation of the proposed law, as well as anyone who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets” an abortion being performed.
Under the bill, aiding and abetting an abortion would include paying for or reimbursing abortion costs through insurance or other methods, whether or not the person knew the abortion would be performed in violation of the law.