Government

Florida Republicans Already Planning Texas-Style Abortion Ban

Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson said "there is no question" that the state legislature will consider a Texas-style abortion bill in the upcoming session.
Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson said "there is no question" that the state legislature will consider a Texas-style abortion bill in the upcoming session. Photo by Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com
Two days after Texas passed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country – banning the procedure after roughly six weeks of pregnancy, effectively kneecapping Roe v. Wade protections across the Lone Star State – some were quick to wonder whether another southern red state, like Florida, might be next.

According to Florida Republicans: Yes.

On Thursday, Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson confirmed that Florida legislators are already considering a similar "heartbeat bill," which would seek to ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Simpson told WFLA-TV that "there is no question" that the state's legislature will consider a Texas-style abortion bill in the upcoming session, slated to begin in January.

Texas' abortion ban went into effect Wednesday, after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an emergency request from pro-choice advocates to block it. The law prohibits abortions before many women even know they're pregnant and contains no exceptions for incest or rape.


Its main feature — the one that provided the U.S. Supreme Court's conservative majority an excuse to punt on it: It bypasses state agencies by encouraging private citizens to take on the role of abortion vigilantes.

When a Tampa Bay Times reporter texted Simpson on Thursday to confirm his plans to emulate the Texas ban, the Florida senate president responded with a smug smiling emoji wearing sunglasses.
This came a day after Republican Rep. Anthony Sabatini, who is vying for the seat in Florida's 11th Congressional District, also announced his plans to file an abortion ban similar to the Texas law.

But the Florida Republicans backing the Texas-style abortion restrictions have been met with swift backlash by the state's female elected officials.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat challenging Ron DeSantis for Florida governor, said Texas' new law is an attack on women not only in Texas, but across the country — essentially undoing decades of work from the women's-rights movement in a single blow.

"On the shoulders of all the female trailblazers, let me say this," Fried tweeted Thursday. "If you're coming for our bodies, we are coming for anyone threatening our bodies."

Florida House Democrat Co-Leader Evan Jenne, who represents Hollywood, released a statement listing other priorities that Republicans should focus on instead of trying to pass a restrictive abortion ban. 

"Right now, we desperately need to fix the severely broken employment system, continue providing relief from the onset of COVID, and we must release federal dollars to programs Floridians need to keep food on the table, their lights on, and a roof over their head," Jenne said. "It’s outrageous to think about prioritizing removing a woman’s right in deciding what’s best for her health. Let’s actually work on things Floridians desperately need today."

Florida House Rep. Robin Bartleman, a Democrat representing Weston, stated that she had to contend with ending a wanted pregnancy due to fetal abnormalities.

"Although the decision was taken out of my hands when the pregnancy terminated itself, I am grateful to have had this choice," said Bartleman, who is a mother to two daughters. "It is incomprehensible that the Texas legislature would force victims of rape and incest to have an unwanted pregnancy. No one would want that for their daughter. This is a draconian law that extinguishes a woman’s right to make decisions about her body."

Bartleman pointed out the hypocrisy of Texas lawmakers banning mask mandates and yet passing this abortion ban. "The Texas Legislature argues against masks mandates on the basis of personal freedom and the right to govern your body, yet they have no problem stripping a woman’s personal freedom," she said.

“Women who care about their own rights, and the men who care about the women in their life, need to organize like we’ve never organized before.”

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Florida Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Miami Democrat, said in a statement Thursday that she feels this is more than a threat from Republicans, who "relish the opportunity" to strip women of the rights to make their own healthcare decisions.

Taddeo considers the legislation a "bill of rights for rapists," and stresses that Floridians need to understand the consequences if the state's Republicans move forward.

“There are no words for this,” Taddeo stated. “Women who care about their own rights, and the men who care about the women in their life, need to organize like we’ve never organized before.”
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Alex DeLuca is a fellow at Miami New Times.
Contact: Alex DeLuca