State Legislation

Florida Senate Committee passes Heartbeat  Law, adds $25 million for crisis pregnancy centers

By Dave Andrusko

It’s been a good week for unborn children in the state of Florida. The Senate’s Fiscal Policy committee approved a measure yesterday to protect unborn babies with a discernible heartbeat as well as authorizing $25 million for Florida crisis pregnancy centers.

 “We have an unprecedented opportunity as lawmakers to protect innocent life,” Republican Senator Erin Grall said about SB 300, adding it would make Florida a “beacon of hope for those who understand that life must be protected.”

Writing for Florida PoliticsA.G. Gancarski noted that Rep. Grall, in closing, said

she heard “choice and choice and choice over and over again.” She said she presented this bill because there “is this culture of death that we have normalized for 50 years, we have sterilized what abortion is.”

“Does Florida want to promote a culture of life,” asked Grall rhetorically, “where all life is important.”

SB 300 would protect unborn babies by disallowing abortions once the child’s heartbeat is detectable, at about six weeks of pregnancy. There are exceptions  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 recent poll found that 62% of Floridians would support a limit after a baby’s heartbeat is detected with exceptions for rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother. “This is true regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or party affiliation,” according to Ragnar Research Partners.

The Senate’s Fiscal Policy committee “was the measure’s final committee of reference, positioning it for a fast track to the Senate floor,” Gancarski wrote. “It could be on Thursday’s Special Order calendar and may get a vote the same day.”

Meanwhile the House companion bill (HB 7) is also moving. Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka’s measure “has cleared one committee already, and has one stop ahead,” Gancarski explained.

Florida’s pro-life governor Ron DeSantis has signaled his support for the proposal, including to reporters in Tallahassee after yesterday’s Senate committee vote.“Exceptions are sensible. And like I said, we welcome pro-life legislation,” DeSantis said.

More good news. On March 9, after  nearly seven years, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle reinstated Florida’s House Bill 1411 which blocked state funds from going to Planned Parenthood and other organizations that perform abortions. Planned Parenthood said in its 2016 challenge to HB1411 that it stood to lose $500,000 a year.

Judge Hinkle captured the nub of the case in two sentences of a three page decision: “An essential basis” of the ruling was

the right to an abortion under Roe v. Wade. In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court overturned Roe.

In a tweet [@AGAshleyMoody] Attorney General Ashley Moody said

Proud to secure a victory in our case about whether Floridians should be forced to fund Planned Parenthood. The court reinstated what the legislature passed in 2016—a ban on state funds supporting clinics that provide abortions.”

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