Florida Bill Intends to Ban Abortion

On Jan. 10, 2019 Rep. Mike Hill filed House Bill 235, which would make it illegal for women to get an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Currently, Florida bans abortions after a woman is 24 weeks pregnant, unless her life or health is severely compromised. This new bill, if passed, would make it difficult for women to have an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy because that’s typically when fetal heartbeats are detected. According to the American Pregnancy Association, however, women usually discover they’re pregnant between their fourth to their seventh week.

The bill proposes that any person who has an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, will be committing a third-degree felony.

Under the bill, some limited exceptions for abortions after six weeks include cases of rape, incest or human trafficking, but they must be accompanied by a copy of a restraining order, police report, medical record or legal court document. Abortions can also be permitted if the mother is diagnosed with a severe medical condition that would permanently impair vital bodily functions if the pregnancy is not terminated.  

Any doctor issuing an abortion will need to provide an examination to detect if a fetal heartbeat is present and inform the mothers of the results of the exam before the procedure can be performed.

Hill told CBS News he filed the bill because “it would save lives. It would save the unborn babies.” However, some believe, this is the most drastic abortion proposal that’s ever been issued in Florida.

Amy Weintraub, the reproductive rights program director for Progress Florida, stated that this bill would make it extremely difficult for women to discover they are pregnant and arrange for an abortion procedure in time. She also stated that the bill will disproportionately impact low-income women; it’ll be much harder for them to secure the finances needed for the procedure in such a short amount of time or arrange for an abortion in another state if they are past the six-week mark.

The bill also proposes to strike the word “fetus” from any abortion-related laws replacing it with the phrase “unborn human being.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has indicated in the past that he would support similar legislation to Hill’s abortion bill.

Florida tried passing a similar bill in 2017 that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but it was shot down in early committee meetings. Other states have also tried imposing abortion restrictions similar to Hill’s bill, but were unsuccessful.

Hill filed the bill to be considered for the legislative session beginning in March 2019.

To read the full bill that was introduced in the Florida House of Representatives, click here.