The Florida Senate has passed a bill to ban abortions on unborn babies with beating hearts — which would make Florida the next state to officially protect the lives of unborn children after Roe was overturned last summer.
The bill then passed by a 26 to 13 vote, with Republican Sen. Alexis Catalayud joining the Democrats in opposition.
“There are other places along the way in which choices can be made and we should not be making the choice after the life is present,” State Senator and Bill Sponsor Erin Grall said during debate before the vote occured.
Democrats tried to add a religious exemption, as if three are any legitimate religions that have killing babies as a ritual, but Republicans defeated it.
Grall responded: “This is not a religious issue. It is an issue about where we draw the line when it comes to morality. When is it OK to take someone’s life who’s here with us right now? If they’re small? If they’re not useful. If they are no longer contributing — according to whom? Do we let somebody else’s religion decide that that life is not meaningful or valuable? No. We don’t. That’s not what we believe in.”
In all, Republicans defeated over a dozen Democrat amendments to weaken the bill and make it more difficult to protect babies from abortions.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says he would sign the bill into law to protect women and unborn babies.
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Under the bill killing the baby in an illegal abortion would be a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5000 fine and, if the mother dies in the abortion, the penalty would be up to 15 years and a $10,000 fine.
SB 300 would protect unborn babies by banning most abortions once their heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy. Exceptions would be allowed for rape, incest and cases when the mother’s life is at risk or to avert “serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment.”
“A physician may not knowingly perform or induce a termination of pregnancy if the physician determines the gestational age of the fetus is more than six weeks,” the bill reads, unless two doctors certify that in their reasonable medical judgment it’s necessary “to save the pregnant woman’s life or to avert a serious risk of imminent substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman other than a psychological condition.”
“We have an unprecedented opportunity as lawmakers to protect innocent life,” Republican Senator Erin Grall said about her bill, saying would make Florida a “beacon of hope for those who understand that life must be protected.”
The pro-life bill also allocates $25 million for Florida pregnancy centers, which serve more than 76,000 women, men, youth and families annually. The centers offer free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, medical exams, counseling, parent classes, financial classes, and resources such as food, diapers, clothing, and financial assistance for housing and utilities. The bill also provides for exceptions including rape, incest, and life of the mother and requires that risky abortion pills be distributed by a physician in person.
Previously, the Florida House Health and Human Services Committee gave approval for HB7 to protect unborn babies with a heartbeat. In 14-6 vote, members of the subcommittee showed their support for the measure supported by 62% of Floridians that would save tens of thousands of babies from abortions annually.
Once both chambers pass their bills each chamber will need to approve a fianl version before it goes to DeSantis.
According to a new poll, 62% of Floridians support legislation to protect unborn babies when a heartbeat is detected, with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. Sixty-one percent of Independents and 58% of women also back the measure.
The bill is based on the scientific fact that an unborn baby’s heart begins beating at 14-22 days after conception and can be dected at six weeks.
Charlotte Lozier Institute associate scholar Katrina Furth, Ph.D., a developmental biologist, attended the hearing to explain the science behind fetal development. In her written testimony, she shared: “Anyone who denies that a preborn child is alive and has a beating heart at six weeks’ gestation is blatantly ignoring the science. . . Researchers have found that the presence of a heartbeat at 6-8 weeks indicates that the preborn child has a very high chance of surviving to childbirth, with different studies finding survival rates between 86% and 98%.”
Kathi Aultman, M.D., a Charlotte Lozier Institute associate scholar from Jacksonville, retired board-certified OB-GYN, and former Planned Parenthood medical director whose experience preforming abortions led her to a pro-life position, also provided testimony during the hearing.
During testimony, Dr. Aultman said: “Abortion not only kills innocent human beings; it damages women, and I have personally seen that damage. . . At six weeks we have a very concrete sign of life that Floridians can identify with, the heartbeat. A baby with a beating heart deserves protection under Florida law.”
Other parts of the bill prohibit state taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for abortion travel and require abortion drugs to be provided in person by a licensed medical doctor.
Currently, abortions are legal for any reason up to 15 weeks, and tens of thousands of unborn babies are aborted every year, including 82,192 last year alone, according to state health statistics.
After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, Florida became an abortion destination for women in neighboring states that banned abortions. But that could change if the heartbeat bill passes.
Most abortions are done after the unborn baby’s heart is beating, and the legislation could save tens of thousands of lives every year. Pro-life advocates expressed optimism about the bill, noting how Republicans control the legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis recently promised to support stronger protections for babies in the womb.
“The fight for life has momentum in Florida,” said SBA Pro-Life America southern regional director Caitlin Connors on Thursday. “We thank Rep. Jenna Persons Mulicka for sponsoring this bill and all of the House members who voted for life this morning. This is the first step to saving tens of thousands of babies each year in Florida.”
A recent poll commissioned by SBA Pro-Life America and the Florida Family Policy Council found strong public support for the legislation, with 62 percent of Floridians in favor. This included 71 percent of independents and 65 percent of women.
Florida has been making progress for life in recent months. DeSantis signed a law to ban abortions after 15 weeks in 2022, and he recently promised to support even stronger protections for babies in the womb. He also supports eliminating the sales tax on baby supplies, including diapers, wipes, cribs and strollers.
Last year, his administration shut down a Pensacola abortion facility after state health inspectors said it nearly killed three women in botched abortions within a span of nine months.
Then, earlier this month, state Attorney General Ashley Moody won another victory for life when a federal judge said the state may defund the billion-dollar abortion chain Planned Parenthood.
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