A Florida lawmaker introduced a bill Wednesday that would put the state’s abortion restrictions on par with those of Texas and grant private citizens the ability to enforce the law through lawsuits.
The legislation would prohibit abortion after a fetal “heartbeat” is detected ― a term referring to electrical activity that doctors say is misleading. Such activity usually occurs six weeks into a pregnancy, which is before many people know they are pregnant.
Under the proposal, anyone who “aids and abets” an abortion procedure beyond the six-week mark could be sued for at least $10,000, regardless of whether they even knew they were a part of someone’s plan to get the abortion.
The copycat legislation was introduced by state Rep. Webster Barnaby (R), who has also been retweeting criticisms of his bill.
Barnaby’s law would expand the window of time in which lawsuits could be brought ― from four years under the Texas law to six years in the Sunshine State. Texas’ law has already prompted a challenge from the Department of Justice, which is currently suing the state for enacting an abortion ban “in open defiance of the Constitution.”
The Supreme Court declined to block Texas’ extreme abortion ban earlier this month in a 5-4 vote that saw Chief Justice John Roberts join the court’s liberal members. While the majority acknowledged that the Texas law may be unconstitutional, they permitted it to go into effect while challenges work their way through the court system.
That decision prompted a searing rebuke from the court’s liberals.
“Presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of Justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand,” wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.
A San Antonio doctor, Dr. Alan Braid, became the first person to be sued under the Texas law earlier this week after he wrote an essay on why he decided to perform an abortion in violation of it, citing his “duty of care” to his patient.