VOLUSIA COUNTY, FL – A legislator in Florida has filed a bill that mimics the controversial anti-abortion measure that became effective in Texas earlier this month. Filed on September 22 by State Rep. Webster Barnaby (R-Volusia County) HB 167, The Florida Heartbeat Act, establishes a fetal heartbeat as the indicator of a fetus’ gestational age, and requires physicians to conduct a test to determine the presence of a viable fetal heartbeat and to inform a woman seeking the abortion if detectable fetal heartbeat is found.
While he has not commented specifically about the proposed bill, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Communications Director Taryn Fenske released a statement saying that the Governor will keep an eye on the measure’s legislative progress.
“Governor DeSantis is pro-life,” Fenske’s statement said. “The Governor’s office is aware that the bill was filed and like all legislation, we will be monitoring it as it moves through the legislative process in the coming months.”
The proposed legislation also prohibits physician from performing or inducing abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected. Physicians who fail to conduct a test to detect a fetal heartbeat would be exposed to penalties.
The bill’s sole specific exemption is in the case of a medical emergency, but HB 167 retains provisions under current Florida law that forbids the use of public funds for abortions except in the cases of medical necessity, rape or incest.
Meanwhile, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis in the race for the state’s Corner Office, vowed to support those who oppose the proposed measure.
“On the shoulders of all the female trailblazers let me say this,” Fried said in a Tweet. “If you’re coming for our bodies, we’re coming for you. I’m doing it as Florida’s next Governor and I’m not alone.”
Florida’s Legislative Session begins on Jan. 11, 2022. If passed, HB 167 would become effective on July 1, 2022.