TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday he might support enacting a law that would ban abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, much like a Texas law that the U.S. Supreme Court allowed to take effect.
The Republican governor told reporters that he wants to pass stronger laws against abortion, but he doesn't know enough about the Texas ban to definitively say he would support a similar bill in Florida.
“What they did in Texas was interesting and I haven’t really been able to look enough into it,” DeSantis said at a West Palm Beach news conference when asked about the Texas law. “I am going to look more significantly at it.”
The Texas law that took effect Wednesday bans abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, usually around six weeks and before many women know they’re pregnant. But instead of the ban being enforced by the state, it allows private citizens in state court to sue providers and anyone involved in facilitating abortions — such as someone who drives a woman to a clinic. Any person who successfully sues would get $10,000 or more.
The court by a 5-4 vote denied an emergency appeal from abortion providers and others that sought to block the law’s enforcement. The court said it was not ruling on the law’s constitutionality or blocking further challenges. DeSantis said until the court gives a final ruling, “I wouldn't read too much into it.”
Republican legislative leaders say they are already preparing anti-abortion bills for the next legislative session, which begins in January. Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson told WFLA-TV that includes a fetal heartbeat bill.
“When the Supreme Court goes out and makes a decision like this, it clearly is going to send a signal to all the states that are interested in banning abortions or making it more restrictive to have an abortion in their state, it’s certainly going to make us take a look at those issues,” Simpson told the Tampa station.
Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls said in a statement that he plans to push for more anti-abortion legislation, but stopped just short of supporting a fetal heartbeat bill.
“In Florida, we agree that killing an innocent human being with a beating heart is wrong. 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,” Sprowls said.
But Florida's Senate Democratic leader, Lauren Book, said her party would fight any such measures despite being in the minority in both houses.
Book, who has publicly discussed surviving sexual abuse as a child, said in a statement that any bill emulating the Texas ban “would send a clear message to me, and to other survivors of sexual assault, that we do not matter.”
“These kinds of measures are draconian, cruel and have no place in modern society,” she said.