TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Legislation filed at the state capitol would bar doctors from performing abortions after fetal heartbeats have been detected.
The measure, which has yet to be heard by any legislative committee, says cardiac activity of a fetus constitutes an identifiable moment in time in which the unborn child should have the same rights as a human being.
Doctors generally say a fetal heartbeat can be detected around six weeks after conception. State Senator Dennis Baxley is the bill sponsor.
“These are human being. They are not frogs. They are not some other source. They are not just tissue. They are lives," said Baxley.
Opponents of the measure say many women don’t even know they are pregnant at the point of pregnancy that the legislation would set as a deadline to have an abortion. Democratic State Representative Anna Eskamani says the legislature should be discussing other pregnancy-related issues this year.
“If this legislative body cares about young people and cares about women and families, then we would support a proactive agenda that focuses on prenatal and postnatal care, contraception, comprehensive sexual health education. We would be focused on having these courageous conversations," said Eskamani.
Should it be approved by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, both proponents and opponents of the fetal heartbeat bill say the measure could be among the first issues to be taken up by a much more conservative Florida Supreme Court.
DeSantis appointed three new justices shortly after taking office in January. Each of them is considered conservative, and each replaced retiring justices that were all considered liberal members of the Court.