Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis began the new year Tuesday by “welcoming” legislation to protect unborn babies’ right to life in his state.
The state legislature started its new session this week with several pro-life bills up for consideration, including a ban on abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable and a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
At a press conference Tuesday, DeSantis did not endorse any specific pro-life bill but said he welcomes legislation to protect unborn babies’ right to life, Politico reports.
“I think there’s a lot of pro-life legislation, and we will be welcoming it,” DeSantis told reporters. “Having protections makes a lot of sense.”
During his State of the State address earlier in the day, he encouraged support for adoption and foster care as well as unborn babies, according to Business Insider.
“We have an opportunity to strengthen protections for the right to life, without which the other rights mean little,” he said. “Protecting life does not end with the unborn.”
Afterward, in response to a reporter’s question about a 15-week abortion ban, the Republican governor said it “makes a lot of sense” because unborn babies at that stage can feel “serious pain” and have heartbeats, according to the report.
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A recent AP/NORC poll found strong public support for bans on abortion after the first trimester. Recent polls out of Texas and Missouri show support for earlier abortion bans, too.
On Tuesday, state Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, introduced legislation to prohibit abortions after 15 weeks in Florida, WFLA News 8 reports. Her bill, state Senate Bill 146, is modeled after a Mississippi law that the U.S. Supreme Court is considering in a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade.
The pro-life legislation would allow exceptions if the mother’s life is at risk or if the unborn baby has a fatal anomaly. It also would create new requirements for hospitals and abortion facilities to report data to the Florida Department of Health, including measures to help identify victims of human trafficking, to keep track of babies who are born alive in abortions and to reduce infant mortality.
Another pro-life bill up for consideration this year is the Florida Heartbeat Act, sponsored by state Rep. Webster Barnaby, R-Deltona. Similar to the Texas heartbeat law, state House Bill 167 would require abortionists to check for an unborn baby’s heartbeat before doing an abortion and prohibit the abortion if they detect a heartbeat. Typically an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable by about six weeks of pregnancy.
The bill also includes a provision similar to the Texas law that would allow private citizens to enforce it by suing abortionists who abort unborn babies with detectable heartbeats or fail to check for a heartbeat before doing the abortion.
The Texas law has stopped most abortions in the state since it went into effect in September, and pro-life leaders estimate thousands of unborn babies’ lives have been saved so far.
Currently, abortions in Florida are legal for any reason up to 24 weeks.
ACTION ALERT: Contact Florida state lawmakers and urge support for pro-life legislation banning abortions.