(Bloomberg) -- A Florida legislator has proposed banning most abortions in the state and allowing lawsuits against doctors who violate it, mirroring a law that recently enacted in Texas.
The bill, proposed by state Representative Webster Barnaby, a Republican, would require doctors in Florida to perform tests to determine if a fetus has a detectable heartbeat before performing an abortion.
If a physician detects a heartbeat, according to the bill, abortion would be prohibited. The measure also would allow doctors to be sued if suspected of performing an abortion after detecting a heartbeat, matching a powerful provision in the Texas law, known as Senate Bill Eight, or SB-8.
The proposal sparked immediate condemnation from abortion rights advocates, who called legislation unconstitutional and part of a flurry of harsh restrictions on women’s rights.
“We are horrified to see anti-choice politicians in Florida following in Texas’ footsteps, and there’s no question that lawmakers hostile to reproductive freedom in other states will do the same,” Adrienne Kimmell, acting president of Naral Pro-Choice America, said in a statement.
Early this month, a sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court refused to block the Texas law, which outlaws most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Senate Bill 8, bars abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected and puts clinics at risk of being shut down if they are found to be in violation.
Asked about Barnaby’s bill on Wednesday in Kissimmee, Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis said he considered his record “100% pro-life” but said he had not seen it.
DeSantis, a Republican seen as a potential presidential candidate, has rejected coronavirus mask mandates and so-called vaccine passports, saying his position is largely about an individual’s right to determine their health-care choices. He said Wednesday that the abortion question was different because “another life is at stake.”
Democratic candidates vying to replace DeSantis in the 2022 election firmly rejected the bill.
“This is a direct attack on a woman’s right to choose,” Charlie Crist, a former governor, said on Twitter. “We’re going to have to fight tooth and nail to protect reproductive freedom.”
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.