A Republican Florida state lawmaker on Wednesday introduced a bill that is modeled after a strict Texas law prohibiting abortions after six weeks, drawing condemnation from supporters of abortion rights who fear such legislation might soon be introduced in other states.
House Bill 167 was filed by Florida state Rep. Webster Barnaby. The bill, like the Texas law, contains a procedural feature that allows private citizens to bring lawsuits against physicians who provide abortions after six weeks as well as any person who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.” The Florida legislation, like the Texas law, also provides for remedies and damages.
Barnaby’s introduction of the bill comes weeks after the US Supreme Court allowed Texas’ law to go into effect and several days after a doctor in the state — who publicly claimed that he had violated the ban — was hit with at least two lawsuits brought against him under the ban. Both lawsuits are brought by plaintiffs who say they oppose the new law, but are eager to get the challenge before a judge.
Notably, the Florida bill allows lawsuits to be brought up to six years after an abortion was performed in violation of the law, whereas supporters of the Texas law say that measure creates a four-year window for bringing suits.
Additionally, the way HB 167 is written makes it extremely difficult to challenge the prohibition until it goes into effect, and even then there are high hurdles.
NARAL Pro-Choice America says it is “horrified to see anti-choice politicians in Florida following in Texas’ footsteps.”
“There’s no question that lawmakers hostile to reproductive freedom in other states will do the same,” Adrienne Kimmell, the group’s acting president, said in a statement. “The harm of these draconian attacks cannot be overstated and they most acutely impact those who already face the greatest barriers to accessing care.”
The group said that lawmakers across 10 states have made clear that they plan to introduce bills similar to Texas’ in their own statehouses. Those states are Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America.
One source who is working in coordination with other states in drafting similar legislation said that while some attempts will fail, he expected at least a total of 10 states to make serious efforts to enact bills similar to Texas’.
CNN has reached out to Barnaby’s office for comment.
After the Supreme Court allowed the Texas law to take effect earlier this month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters that he was supportive of more abortion restrictions, saying, “I’m pro-life. I welcome pro-life legislation.”
“What they did in Texas was interesting,” the Republican governor said at the time. “I’m going to look a little more significantly at it.”
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