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Florida lawmaker files 'heartbeat' abortion bill similar to Texas law

If made into law, it would make abortion illegal after a fetal heartbeat is detected. People who help someone end a pregnancy also could be sued.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — On the heels of Texas' restrictive abortion bill going into effect, a Florida lawmaker has filed a nearly identical one in the Sunshine State. 

If passed as a law, the bill would make abortion illegal after a fetal heartbeat is detected. That usually is around six weeks. And, for many women, it's before they know they're pregnant. 

Like the Texas law, anyone who helps someone get an abortion could be sued.

If Florida's bill follows the Lone Star state's law, a person other than a government employee can bring a lawsuit — even if they have no connection to the woman getting an abortion — and could get at least $10,000 in damages if they win in court.

The bill also defines pregnancy beginning at fertilization.

Webster Barnaby, a Republican congressman from Volusia County, filed HB 167 for the upcoming legislative session. 

The news of the bill has already garnered attention from other Florida lawmakers. Democratic Rep. Anna V. Eskamani called it "disgusting."

10 Tampa Bay reached out Wednesday to Barnaby for comment. By Thursday, he had not responded.

However, Florida's Republican speaker of the house did.

“I have always fought for unborn babies and their right to life, and the Florida House of Representatives has been a national leader in developing pro-life legislation," Speaker Chris Sprowls wrote in a statement. "While other states contend with Federal law only, we must also contend with Article I, Section 23 of the Florida Constitution, as well. Our laws have to be strong enough to jump through multiple levels of judicial scrutiny. We look forward to bringing to the Floor a bill that saves every unborn life possible. I have asked House Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Erin Grall and House Health & Human Services Chairwoman Colleen Burton to review the various proposals, look at other ideas, and take point on this issue this Session.”

The Texas law is the nation’s biggest curb to abortion since the Supreme Court affirmed in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that women have a constitutional right to an abortion. 

A divided Supreme Court refused to block the Texas law by a 5-4 vote earlier in the month. The Department of Justice has since sued the state and asked a federal court to stop the law's enforcement while it decides the case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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