Florida Lawmaker Takes Notes From Texas With Proposed Abortion Bill

Focus on foreground as doctor shows ultrasound in background

Photo: Getty Images

A Florida lawmaker has introduced banning some abortions, similar to Texas' recent controversial law targeting the practice, according to NPR.

Republican state Rep. Webster Barnaby filed a proposal Wednesday (September 22) called the "Florida Heartbeat Act." This bill would prevent abortions if a physician detects a "fetal heartbeat" about six weeks into the pregnancy. Most people wouldn't know if they are pregnant during this time period.

It would also allow citizens to sue anyone involved in the abortion process, reporters say. Physicians could be fined $10,000 for each abortion they perform.

"Current Florida law allows for abortions to be conducted up to 24 weeks into gestation except in cases of life or health endangerment," the Austin American-Statesman says.

"Fetal heartbeat" is misleading because ultrasounds machines are picking up electrical activity from cells that haven't formed a heart yet. The "sound" actually comes from the machine, NPR explains. Reproductive health experts have also called it "medically inaccurate."

"We are in no way talking about any kind of cardiovascular system," Jennifer Kerns, an OB-GYN at the University of California San Francisco, told WIRED. "At six weeks, the embryo is forming what will eventually develop into mature systems... there’s a very immature cardiovascular system.”

Barnaby also changes the definition of "fetus," referring to it as "an unborn child" instead.

Texas' abortion bill, considered one of the most restrictive ones in the nation, became law after the Supreme Court declined to block it earlier this month.

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