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Could Texas-style abortion law come to Florida in 2022?

'I'm going to have to look more significantly at it,' Gov. Ron DeSantis says
florida capitol.jfif
Posted at 5:49 PM, Sep 02, 2021

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Texas now has one of the nation's most restrictive abortion laws -- banning them when a heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks. Is Florida next?

Some state lawmakers here are more hopeful after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block the new policy from taking effect on Wednesday.

In a 5-4 decision, the court denied an emergency appeal from abortion providers and others seeking to halt enforcement.

Far-right Republican Rep. Anthony Sabatini of Clermont said Thursday he would propose a similar bill for Florida's 2022 lawmaking session. The state currently bans abortions after 24 weeks.

State Rep. Anthony Sabatini
State Rep. Anthony Sabatini says he will propose another bill next legislative session that places more restrictions on abortions.

Sabatini has tried to push the change for several legislative sessions but said his party has been wary of high-court objections.

"I think that pretext is gone," Sabatini said. "I think there's absolutely nothing that the moderate Republicans and centrists like the Speaker of the House, for example, an excuse they have to kill the pro-life legislation."

The governor and GOP leadership have all given statements on the Texas law. None explicitly promised to pursue the idea in the upcoming session.

"In Florida, we agree that killing an innocent human being with a beating heart is wrong," said House Speaker Chris Sprowls. "It is why we have worked every session to strengthen protections for unborn babies, including those for unborn children with disabilities last session, and it is why I am confident that those who share this moral view in the Florida House will continue the fight."

Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson went a bit further, saying "the Texas law represents a new approach." He also called the Supreme Court's refusal to block the law "encouraging."

"Abortion kills children and forever changes the life of the mother, the father, and the entire extended family," Simpson said. "As an adoptive child myself, it's important to me that we do everything we can to promote adoption and prevent abortion; therefore, I think it’s worthwhile to take a look at the Texas law and see if there is more we can do here in Florida."

Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed the Texas law while on the road in West Palm Beach. He told reporters he was pro-life and welcomed pro-life legislation but wanted a closer look at the policy before endorsing the idea.

"They basically have done this through a private right of action," DeSantis said. "It's a little different on how some of these debates have gone. We'll have to look. I'm going to have to look more significantly at it."

Democrats have called a Texas-style abortion law "an assault on women's rights."

State Rep. Fentrice Driskell speaks on possible abortion legislation in Florida
State Rep. Fentrice Driskell says more restrictions on abortions is a violation of women's rights.

State Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, felt the GOP majority had more important things to focus on.

"To me, it is a distraction," she said. "We’re dealing with a pandemic, a broken unemployment system. We've got natural disasters and all sorts of things happening in Florida, so the people of Florida don't need this distraction right now."

Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, also warned Florida's privacy laws would likely prohibit such a policy.

"It will be faced with a court challenge under our state constitution," she said. "Ours is very different from other states. There is enumerate right to privacy that Floridians have overwhelmingly voted to protect."

A Florida bill would also be under consideration in an election year. Political experts have said lawmakers tend to avoid making major changes during election cycles out of fear of voter blowback. Time will tell if the notion holds.

Florida's 2022 legislative session is set to begin in January.