A new Florida bill could make performing an abortion a third-degree felony.
The latest “heartbeat bill” HB-235 would require doctors to search for a fetal heartbeat before performing an abortion. If a doctor performs the procedure after detecting a heartbeat, they could face felony charges, punishable by up to five years in prison, probation, and a $5,000 fine. It would also change each mention of “unborn fetus” to “unborn human being,” which many scientists and physicians have argued against for decades.
A fetal heartbeat can be detectable as early as six weeks, which can be before a woman even knows she’s pregnant. Current Florida law permits abortion up to 24 weeks.
A similar bill was passed in Iowa last year, but was blocked by a judge after being challenged by Iowa abortion providers, including one Planned Parenthood clinic.
Ohio lawmakers also passed a similar bill in 2018, but it was vetoed by Governor John Kasich.
Some GOP lawmakers are more optimistic about passing legislation restricting access to abortion, given the new conservative majority on the Supreme Court.