Key GOP lawmaker: No ‘cut and paste’ of Texas abortion law
TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s Republican leaders, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson, have all said they’re open to passing a Texas-style bill banning abortions after six weeks. But another key GOP lawmaker has concerns over part of the law.
Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, who is slated to become Senate President after the 2022 elections, told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune she objects to the Texas law’s provision allowing private citizens to sue abortion providers to enforce it.
“I do have concerns with the neighbor versus neighbor,” Passidomo told the newspaper. “That’s very troubling.”
The Texas law lets people sue anyone abetting an abortion, including medical providers, but also anyone who pays for the procedure or even gives a ride to a woman to get one.
If successful in court, the person could be awarded $10,000.
Passidomo has described herself as “pro-life” and is in favor of some abortion restrictions, but doesn’t want a “cut and paste” of the Texas law.
GOP leaders in control of the Legislature have passed several abortion restrictions since gaining control of the chamber in the late 1990s but haven’t advanced such a strict measure as the Texas law.
Abortions in Florida are banned after 24 weeks, and lawmakers in 2020 passed a law requiring a parent to consent if a minor seeks an abortion. But a bill that would have banned abortions of fetuses “capable of feeling pain” or after about 20 weeks in the womb didn’t receive a hearing last year.
Renewed national attention to the Texas law came last month when the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the law to take effect. Activists on both sides of the issue saw the ruling as a potential first step to dismantling Roe v. Wade, the seminal 1973 case enshrining a woman’s right to an abortion.
DeSantis, Sprowls and Simpson have all said they’re open to a law similar to Texas’ in Florida but haven’t signed on to specific details of the measure. The next regular legislative session doesn’t start until Jan. 11, and no bill like the Texas law has yet been filed.
Still, Democrats and anti-abortion activists are gearing up to defeat any GOP move to pass a ban on abortions after six weeks, generally when the first fetal heartbeat can be detected. They have said it would be a de facto ban on all abortions since most women don’t discover they’re pregnant until after that time has passed.
Simpson also made the path for a strict abortion restriction bill clearer last week when he removed Sen. Lauren Book, a Plantation Democrat, as chair of the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee.
Book is opposed to restrictions on abortion rights and could’ve had the power to block a Texasstyle bill from receiving a hearing if her committee was assigned the bill. Simpson said the move was related to her position as Senate Democratic Leader, not as a way to ease the path for an abortion bill.