Pro-Life groups are celebrating Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signing 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.
“We are proud to support life and family in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said in a statement. “I applaud the Legislature for passing the Heartbeat Protection Act that expands pro-life protections and provides additional resources for young mothers and families.”
The new law the Heartbeat Protection Act (SB 300), a bill that would save tens of thousands of lives annually and provide $25 million in aid to women and families.
DeSantis signed the bill into law in his office surrounded by the Bill sponsors Sen. Erin Grall, R- Indian River, and Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka, R-Fort Myers, and other supporters of the bill.
Florida Family Policy Council President John Stemberger was there in person with Governor DeSantis at the bill historic signing and made the following comments:
Many of us have worked all of our lives for a moment like this when Roe vs. Wade is reversed, and we can work to pass laws that provide real protections for the unborn and services for women to give them a real choice. As a state, we can learn to love children and not kill them. We applaud Speaker Renner, President Passadomo, and the Governor for their leadership in getting to this historic moment. Sen Grall and Rep Persons-Mulika also did amazing work to defend the unborn. In Florida, we are fighting to protect children, both born and unborn, and today’s bill is a huge step toward making Florida a safer place for the little ones.
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Stemberger also condemned abortion activists who attacked pro-life lawmakers during the legislative session Thursday where the bill was approved.
“This bill passed in the Senate a few weeks ago and was heard on the House Floor the entire day today. Both times, eruptions of shouting and protest occurred, and they had to clear the gallery and shut it down for the day due to the protesters. Today in the House, protestors began throwing trash onto the House floor, so they cleared the entire gallery of everyone, including peaceful observers and our staff. Democrats also tried to block and obstruct the bill by trying to add around 50 frivolous amendments,” he said.
Other leading pro-life groups also praised DeSantis.
Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Denise Harle, director of the ADF Center for Life, said, “We commend Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Legislature for taking a stand for true women’s health care and protecting innocent life by enacting this legislation.”
“Every human life is valuable, and every baby deserves to be protected. By enacting the Heartbeat Protection Act, Florida is continuing its work to preserve the lives of children and protect the wellbeing of mothers. All states—including Florida—have valid interests in establishing legal protections for unborn children who have detectable heartbeats, as well as a duty to protect the health and safety of women,” she added.
SBA Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser added “We thank Gov. Ron DeSantis for following the science and the will of the people by signing the Heartbeat Protection Act into law. It is thanks to his leadership and the leadership of pro-life state leaders throughout the country that we are seeing incredible momentum in the states to protect unborn lives. Gov. DeSantis has always been a bold pro-life voice, never flinching in the face of extremist opposition in order to stand proudly in defending Floridians. That’s why he, Florida’s Republican legislators and Attorney General Moody saw such overwhelming victories in the mid-term elections last year, and why the state of Florida is a shining example to others in the Dobbs era.”
The bill greatly expands support for the Florida Pregnancy Care Network, from Five Million to Twenty-Five million to further the work of Florida’s pregnancy centers to provide needed resources for mothers in unexpected pregnancies, including diapers, formula, baby clothes, pregnancy tests, job training, parenting classes, counseling and a variety of other goods and services.
The legislation also prohibits the use of taxpayers’ dollars for transporting mothers out of state to receive abortions.
Finally, the bill also prohibits the mailing of chemical abortion prescriptions and that a doctor must be present in person to prescribe such medications and to perform surgical abortions, cutting off the ability of clinics to use non-medical staff to conduct abortions or use telehealth to prescribe those abortion drugs.
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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