WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 24: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks as Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas) (L), Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) (3rd L) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) (R) listen during a news conference outside U.S. Capitol September 24, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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The Women’s Health and Protection Act passed the House in a 218 to 211 vote. The bill is in response to the Texas abortion law, SB8, and is the legislature’s attempt to block the state’s legislation where the Supreme Court didn’t. Since Roe v. Wade led the Supreme Court to rule abortions to be constitutional in 1973, Democrats have claimed the Texas law violates the Constitution.
The bill, which received only Democrat support, would provide federal oversight for abortion laws nationwide. Introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D) of California, the act aims to eliminate mandatory ultrasounds, waiting periods and pre-abortion counseling. Chu claimed the Texas law has an unrealistic time span to detect pregnancies and levels severe penalties against abortion facilitators.
“At six weeks, before most women know that they are pregnant, with no exception for incest or rape. But it’s not an outlier,” claimed Chu. “The other hundreds of anti-choice laws that have been adopted have chipped away at Roe and they’re all based in some way on bullying or harassing patients or doctors.”
Prior to the vote, the House floor was filled with emotionally charged testimonies from both the pro-choice and pro-life camps. Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas) used a personal experience to illustrate her belief of fetuses being human lives.
I was proud to voice my opposition to the “Abortion on Demand Act.” It is an honor to represent the lives of the unborn in Congress, and I will always fight for their well-being. pic.twitter.com/kjsC1w1lL9
“I, like many women, suffered a miscarriage. I should have been able to hold my son in my arms but that was not God’s plan,” said Van Duyne. “Years later, I still grieve that loss and not the loss of a generic ‘cluster of cells,’ but an actual baby.”
Proponents of the bill, however, claimed women living in abortion restrictive states will be put at risk by pursuing illegal methods of pregnancy termination. In the meantime, the bill will advance to the Senate where it will likely face harsh opposition from Republicans.
“Justice for J6” rally organizer Matt Braynard said the group was in constant contact with several law enforcement agencies in Washington, D.C., leading up to the event.
“We communicated with them on a near-daily basis for two months and ahead of this, to make sure it all went smoothly, they were very responsive to everything,” Braynard told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “And for the most part, I think they did a phenomenal job in helping us coordinate and have a safe and successful event.”
Braynard added that the event was a success before it even happened because of the media attention the group received leading up to the rally.
The organization behind the “Justice for J6” rally in Washington Sept. 18 was in constant contact with multiple law enforcement agencies ahead of the event, Look Ahead America Executive Director Matt Braynard told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Event organizers were in constant contact with the U.S. Capitol Police, the National Park Police and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) for two months before the event, Braynard told the DCNF. Braynard said the organizers “knew that nothing was going to happen” at the rally and that the law enforcement response was “a little overkill.”
“We communicated with them on a near-daily basis for two months and ahead of this, to make sure it all went smoothly, they were very responsive to everything,” Braynard said. “And for the most part, I think they did a phenomenal job in helping us coordinate and have a safe and successful event.”
“I know there were federal agents at the rally, they were surrounding us in all directions,” Braynard added. “They were expected to be there. I knew they were gonna be there. We coordinated with them [federal law enforcement officials], we told them everything we were doing.”
Several people carried American flags and signs in support of people jailed in connection with the Capitol riot at the “Justice for J6” rally in Washington, D.C. on September 18, 2021. (Kaylee Greenlee – Daily Caller News Foundation)
Braynard said the event was a success before it even happened because of all the media attention, so he wasn’t concerned about the physical turnout. The organization bused in a couple of hundred attendees, the event’s live stream had between 35,000 and 50,000 viewers and private security who worked at the event said between 400 and 500 people, including journalists, attended the rally in person.
The Capitol Police Department estimated between 450 and 500 people, including media, attended the rally on Saturday, WUSA 9 reported.
“Our team worked with them [law enforcement officials] on a daily basis and everything, you know, good planning, led to a smooth execution of the rally,” Braynard told the DCNF. “Every day we cooperated and the final approval actually for these types of events, believe it or not, does not happen until the morning of because they need to inspect everything. But like I said, they at no point were interested in deterring us at all, from what I could tell.”
Officials with the Capitol Police proofread press releases for Look Ahead America leading up to the rally and were notified of every piece of equipment the group planned on using, according to Braynard. The MPD requires a permit for events and for organizers to obtain insurance and first aid kits, Braynard said.
“None of our people were arrested,” Braynard told the DCNF. He added that he was never concerned about attendees showing up armed and that the accusation was “a political decision to suppress turnout.”
Several people carried American flags and signs in support of people jailed in connection with the Capitol riot at the “Justice for J6” rally in Washington, D.C. on September 18, 2021. (Kaylee Greenlee – Daily Caller News Foundation)
Braynard said the rally wasn’t a “big elaborate scheme by the federal government to entrap people and arrest them” as some people suggested. People posted to online extremist groups the event was a set up for those involved in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6 and dissuaded people from attending, NBC News reported.
“I just wanted to say to anybody that was deterred from attending this or thought that this was some kind of honey trap or false flag attack, remember the names of the people who told you that and never trust them again,” Braynard told the DCNF.
The Capitol Police did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment and the MPD declined to discuss law enforcement operations.
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The House narrowly passed legislation on Friday to codify Roe v. Wade, which was brought to the floor in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to deny an emergency appeal filed by abortion providers to block the Texas heartbeat bill earlier this month.
The tally was 218-211. No Republicans voted in favor of the measure, and one Democrat, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), broke party lines and voted against the legislation.
The Women’s Health Protection Act — introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) — would bar restrictions to abortions including “mandatory waiting periods, biased counseling, two-trip requirements, and mandatory ultrasounds.”
Democrats have charged the Texas bill is unconstitutional, vowing to do everything in their power to overturn the policy.
“This is about freedom, about freedom of women having a choice about the size and timing of their families, not the business of people on the court, or members of Congress, it’s about themselves,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said ahead of the vote. “But it’s also about freedom from the danger of vigilantes. So when this court embraced this shameful Texas law, they brought shame to the United States Supreme Court.”
Republicans slammed the bill, arguing that it goes beyond codifying Roe v. Wade.
“This is exactly what they did in New York when Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo lied to everyone and said it was just codifying Roe v. Wade, and that ended up being a late-term abortion bill that in New York’s law hey even changed the penal code so if a woman was assaulted, and she lost her baby as a result of miscarriage, they couldn’t charge the perpetrator for homicide,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) told The Post.
The Supreme Court on Sept. 2 voted 5-4 to uphold Texas’ new policy to ban the procedure after six weeks and allow for individuals to file civil suits against abortion providers or those who help facilitate abortions.
Top law enforcement officials in Georgia are calling for mandatory minimum sentences for offenders to reduce rising crime in the state.
Georgia Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Terry Norris told the Senate Public Safety Committee that a solid justice system with harsher sentencing for violent crimes could deter criminals.
“We’re all in favor of giving people a second chance, but not a third, fourth and fifth, particularly when those people are injuring or harming and victimizing other people,” Norris said during a committee meeting Wednesday. “So, I say certainty in sentencing.”
Reports show an increase in crime across the state this year. Crime in Atlanta doubled in the spring, according to reports. Gov. Brian Kemp has thrown money at the issue, and legislative leaders have called for funding to combat crime. The committee met Wednesday to discuss the trends and solutions.
Kemp directed $7 million from his emergency fund to support a crime suppression unit created to address crime in Atlanta. House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, announced a $75 million proposal for additional personnel and resources for law enforcement and mental health services. Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan also has proposed giving Georgians tax credits for donating to their local law enforcement agency.
Law enforcement leaders said Wednesday restoring the state’s backlogged judicial system, employing more prosecutors and increasing the penalties for recidivism could help stanch the issue.
Mandatory minimum sentencing laws force a judge to issue the longest prison sentence based on a prosecutor’s charges against a defendant.
Georgia’s truth-in-sentencing laws have set mandatory minimum sentences for a selection of charges. Although lawmakers have passed some reforms, the laws are considered to be among the most severe in the nation. Georgia’s prison systems have ranked among the 10 most overcrowded in the nation. Critics point to the tremendous expense of warehousing so many people, as well as the threat to society represented by prison conditions.
Sen. Kim Jackson, D-Atlanta, said she was concerned a push for mandatory minimum sentences would lead to mass incarceration.
“What do you imagine being the safeguards that get put in place so that we don’t return to an era of having mass amounts of people in prison for nonviolent crimes, serving long sentences that ultimately leave them separated from their families, and their families, therefore, no longer having income from a particular person,” Jackson said.
There are more than 80,000 people incarcerated in the state.
Georgia sheriffs oversee the state’s 142 county jails, which currently have about 35,000 inmates, Norris said.
The Georgia Department of Corrections oversees the state’s 34 prisons, which house nearly 52,000 felony offenders, according to the agency’s website. The department has a $1.1 billion budget for fiscal year 2022.
Law enforcement officials also said the agencies are short-staffed and face low recruitment levels. Officials said Wednesday that mental health was the biggest driver of crime in the state. Budget writers increased spending on behavioral health in fiscal year 2022 by $58 million over fiscal year 2021.
The Senate Public Safety Committee will hold a series of meetings to continue to look at the crime trends and to hear testimony from local governments, law enforcement and judicial officials and others in the community.
Abortion clinics in Texas are asking the Supreme Court to fast-track their challenge to the state’s law banning abortion as early as six weeks.
In a rarely seen maneuver, the providers asked the justices to leapfrog normal judicial process and decide whether the Texas Heartbeat Act is constitutional before lower courts have a chance to review it. The clinics say it’s crucial the Court hears their case soon, as copycat measures proliferate across the country.
“Thousands of Texans are now unable to exercise their federal constitutional right to obtain an abortion,” the petition reads. “Those with the means to do so are being forced to travel hundreds of miles out of state to exercise a constitutional right.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the abortion issue are scrambling following successful implementation of the Heartbeat Act, which has ended most legal abortions in the nation’s second-most populous state. Republican lawmakers in six states are reportedly considering similar bills. The House of Representatives will vote Friday on legislation that guarantees abortion access through federal law in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned. The bill will likely not pass the Senate, but it reflects a Democratic sense that abortion could rejuvenate their moribund political prospects amid multiple crises.
The seldom-used procedure the providers invoked is called “certiorari before judgment.” The justices prefer for lower courts to review cases before they do, so that they have the benefit of a thorough factual record and well-reasoned opinions to guide their deliberations. The Court’s rules, however, allow litigants to cut to the front of the line if their case is “of such imperative public importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination.”
Such petitions usually face long odds. The Court has granted these requests in select and extraordinary instances, and then usually at the behest of the executive branch. The justices are already set to hear a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade in December.
The last time the Court granted review before judgment was January 2019, when the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to decide whether it could include a citizenship question on the 2020 census form. An appeals court had yet to weigh in on the matter, which usually takes months, and the government faced a hard deadline to finalize the form and print it.
Other examples from the Court’s history include the Nixon tapes case, and a World World II-era challenge to the president’s power to try German saboteurs by military tribunal.
The Heartbeat Act is difficult to attack by design. Government officials responsible for enforcement are the usual targets of a legal challenge to a given law. If courts strike down the statute, they will issue an order forbidding those same officials from enforcing it. But under Texas’s law, private citizens are responsible for enforcement via civil lawsuits. Therefore, it’s difficult for the clinics and courts alike to home in on a single target and permanently enjoin the law.
The Supreme Court on Sept. 1 voted 5-4 to allow the Texas law to take effect. In an unsigned statement, the Court cited “complex and novel antecedent procedural questions” as their reason for denying an emergency appeal from clinics in the state.
Those questions are still unresolved three weeks on, so nothing has changed since the Court’s last encounter with the case. The providers emphasize, however, that it will take years for cases to run their ordinary course in the courts, meaning abortions will not be available in Texas for the foreseeable future unless the justices intervene now.
“The few cases pending in state court could take months, if not years, to wend through the state-court system before they could provide statewide relief,” the petition reads.
One challenge to the heartbeat law is pending before the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Arguments in that matter are scheduled for December, and a decision would follow some months thereafter in 2022. Only then could providers appeal to the Supreme Court.
If the Court takes up this week’s appeal, arguments will likely take place in December alongside a second abortion case from Mississippi. That dispute, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, involves a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks.
The House passed Friday a broad pro-choice bill that would sweep away state restrictions on abortion, a speedy but largely symbolic vote in reaction to a wave of pro-life measures in Texas and other red states making their way to the Supreme Court.
The House voted 218-211 to approve the Women’s Health Protection Act, rushing the bill onto the floor without a committee hearing after the Supreme Court denied Sept. 1 a request to block a newly passed Texas law barring most abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy.
“Today, the House of Representatives took a crucial step to safeguard the right to access abortion care in the United States,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, New York Democrat, after the vote. “Accessing abortion has been recognized as a constitutional right for nearly half a century, yet this right is now under sustained attack by anti-choice state legislatures and a hostile Supreme Court.”
The only Democrat to oppose H.R 3755 was Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas. All Republicans voted against the measure.
While the bill is unlikely to reach the Senate floor, the debate provided a platform for Democrats to sound the alarm ahead of the 2022 election on the surge of challenges to Roe v. Wade, led by Mississippi’s 15-week ban on abortion scheduled for oral argument before the high court in December.
Democrats also ripped the Texas law, known as SB 8, which allows private citizens to bring civil lawsuits against health care providers who perform abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, or about six to eight weeks gestation, with an exception for medical emergencies.
“Today, nearly 90% of counties in this country no longer have a single abortion provider. Enough is enough,” said Rep. Diana DeGette, Colorado Democrat. “If the [Supreme Court] justices over in that building there won’t act, the U.S. House of Representatives will act.”
House Democrats argued that the bill was needed to codify the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe legalizing abortion nationwide, while Republicans blasted the measure, calling it the “Abortion on Demand Act.”
“This bill is far outside the American mainstream and goes far beyond Roe v. Wade,” said Rep. Chris Smith, New Jersey Republican. “This bill constitutes an existential threat to unborn children and to the value of life itself.”
He said the bill would “nullify every modest pro-life restriction ever enacted by the states,” including laws requiring parental consent for minors, waiting periods and ultrasounds, as well as “pain-capable” laws barring most abortions after 20 weeks and bans on certain procedures such as partial-birth.
“The majority has chosen once again to lie to the American people about what this bill is about. This bill has nothing to do with women’s health. This bill is about infanticide,” said Rep. Lisa McClain, Michigan Republican. “To my Democratic colleagues, if you’re supportive of infanticide, just say it.”
Rep. Lori Trahan, Massachusetts Democrat, countered that “Roe is on the verge of elimination, and millions of women are rightly terrified for what that means for their bodily autonomy.”
People like me don’t make it to Congress. In fact, I shouldn’t even be breathing. My mother, against all odds, chose life. Against the pressure of her own family, she had me.
The debate was often intensely personal. At least two Democratic women spoke about having abortions, while Rep. Beth Van Duyne, Texas Republican, discussed her miscarriage and held a life-sized doll of a baby at the time of birth.
Rep. Sylvia Garcia, Texas Democrat, brandished a wire clothes hanger, declaring that “we cannot go back to the dark ages of using wire hangers for self-help.”
House Democrats also urged the Senate to pass the measure, which is unlikely, given the 50-50 partisan split and the anticipated opposition of pro-life Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.
A potential swing vote, Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, has said she opposes the bill as written.
If you want an idea of just how out of touch journalists at MSNBC are, compare the network’s reception of Texas’s pro-life law to the radical House Democrat effort to guarantee abortion at any time: It’s violent, slavery-loving, Taliban Christians vs. a simple attempt to “protect access to care.”
On MSNBC, Friday, host Craig Melvin blandly described the bill as “protecting the ability to decide to continue or end a pregnancy.” He simply characterized, “And it also prohibits restrictions on abortion after fetal viability when pregnancy would pose a risk to the patient’s life or health.”
Activist reporter Leigh Ann Caldwell used liberal language to explain: “There used to be a lot of anti-choice Democrats in the party. That is no longer the case.” Anti-choice Democrats? An MSNBC graphic lied: “Soon: House Voting on Act to Protect ‘Access to Care.’” Care? Care for whom? Not babies.
Among other provisions, the bill, known as the Women’s Health Protection Act, would require states to allow abortions of an unborn baby viable outside the womb if one physician determines that an abortion would protect the woman’s health. The bill would likely supersede state laws mandating a 24-hour waiting period prior to an abortion procedure, as well as bans on sex-selective abortions.
This is quite a contrast to how the network covered the Texas law. On September 2, Eddie Glaude compared the provision in the Texas law that allows citizens to sue abortion providers to the Fugitive Slave Law:
But I also have this kind of historical analogy and it’s gonna sound rather strange initially, but the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, what it did, right? It said that every private citizen had an obligation to return a fugitive slave to their owner. And what it did, it forced a choice onto the nation, are you going to be individually complicit with the institution of slavery, you see. And so now this private citizen bounty, right, in so many ways intensifies the choices that are being made by everyday, ordinary people.
On September 6, MSNBC journalists warned that Texas will “tolerate violence” against people seeking an abortion. On September 3, a crazed Joy Reid frothed that conservative Christians, like those in Texas, are America’s “Taliban.”
A bit of a contrast to “protecting access to care,” huh?
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A transcript of the segment is below. Click “expand” to read more.
Craig Melvin Reports 9/24/2021 11:11
GRAPHIC: Soon: House Voting on Act to Protect ‘Access to Care’
CRAIG MELVIN: Also right now, we are keeping a very close eye on the House, because any minute now lawmakers are going to start voting on the Women’s Health Protection Act which looks to cement a woman’s right to an abortion. It’s meant to counter the restrictive laws popping up in states like Texas and Mississippi. A live look at the House floor. Among other things, the bill will protect the ability to decide to continue or end a pregnancy. Enshrines health care provider’s ability to offer services prior to fetal viability without restrictions imposed by states. And it also prohibits restrictions on abortion after fetal viability when pregnancy would pose a risk to the patient’s life or health. NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell has more. She’s on Capitol Hill. So, explain the urgency among Democrats to pass this bill. And if it does pass the House, what are its chances in the Senate?
LEIGH ANN CALDWELL: Hey, Craig. Essentially this bill codifies Roe v. Wade into law. Now, this bill has been around for eight years. But this is the first time the House of Representatives is voting on it. The reason which is pretty remarkable, is because this is the first time there has been a majority of pro-choice Democrats who are able to pass this legislation in the House of Representatives. That shows a very stark sign of the times that social issues are now very partisan as well. There used to be a lot of anti-choice Democrats in the party. That is no longer the case. Yesterday Speaker Pelosi was very passionate yesterday, saying that no one has any business to tell a woman what to do. This morning she was a little bit less direct, but just as passionate about this legislation. Let’s listen.
HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: This is about freedom. About freedom of women to have choice about the size and timing of their families. Not the business of people on the Court or members of Congress. About themselves. When this court embraced this shameful Texas law, they brought shame to the United States Supreme Court.
CALDWELL So this is expected to pass the house once they vote on it in just a few moments. As far as the chances in the Senate, well, it is not going to get the 60 votes necessary. The only two pro-choice Republicans Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski. Susan Collins told me she wasn’t going to vote for this. It goes too far, and there’s two Democrats. We don’t know where they stand on this legislation, Senator Joe Manchin and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.
California’s newest labor law is going to change the way major retail outlets such as Amazon manage their massive warehouses.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 701, which supporters said will give warehouse workers protection from having rest periods and bathroom breaks limited because of production quotas.
The bill, which Newsom signed Wednesday, will require warehouse operations, most notably at retail giant Amazon, to disclose any production quota requirements to workers and ensure workers are given breaks and adequate time to use the restroom even if the quotas would prevent them.
Companies no longer can fire an employee for not meeting production quotas under the new law.
“We cannot allow corporations to put profit over people,” Newsom said in a statement. “The hardworking warehouse employees who have helped sustain us during these unprecedented times should not have to risk injury or face punishment as a result of exploitative quotas that violate basic health and safety.”
Businesses must give the California Labor Commissioner data on their employee quotas upon request under AB 701. The commissioner then could fine the businesses based on the data.
The bill also allows warehouse workers to file private lawsuits against the employer if they wish.
“Amazon’s business model relies on enforcing inhumane work speeds that are injuring and churning through workers at a faster rate than we’ve ever seen,” Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, said. “Workers aren’t machines. We’re not going to allow a corporation that puts profits over workers’ bodies to set labor standards back decades just for ‘same-day delivery.’ This bill is simply about giving workers some basic dignity back and empowering them to keep themselves safe. ”
Gonzalez also was the author of a controversial 2019 law that required gig workers such as Uber drivers to be classified as full-time employees who require benefits and paid leave.
Opponents of AB 701 warn it’s only going to make the current logistics issues on the west coast worse.
“We are disappointed Governor Newsom signed AB 701, which will exacerbate our current supply chain issues, increase the cost of living for all Californians and eliminate good-paying jobs,” said Rachel Michelin, president of the California Retailers Association and chair of the No on AB 701 coalition. “With California’s ports facing record backlogs of ships waiting off the coast and inflation spiking to the fastest pace in 13 years, AB 701 will make matters worse for everyone – creating more back-ordered goods and higher prices for everything from clothes, diapers and food to auto parts, toys and pet supplies.”
Michelin said the law is going to affect the state’s fight against COVID-19.
“Even worse, as the state, employers and families head into the fall and winter months and rely on COVID-19 tests to keep our communities safe, legislation like AB 701 will hamper these efforts by further slowing the movement of COVID-19 tests from warehouses and distribution centers to hospitals, pharmacies and doctors’ offices,” she said.
Boohoff Law, which has an office in North Port, where the couple was living, said Thursday it will pay the hefty bounty “for information leading directly to the exact whereabouts of missing person Brian Laundrie, a person of interest in the case of 22-year-old Gabrielle ‘Gabby’ Petito.”
“The authorized reward will remain open for two months starting from the receipt of the tip by the investigating law enforcement,” the statement said, the Sun North Port reported.
“We believe by offering a reward, it may help law enforcement get answers and bring justice for Gabby,” Kate Shakira, and employee at the firm, told the Sun. “We have been in touch with law enforcement about this reward.”
“Only one reward is offered and cannot be split,” she said. “We don’t just have an office in this community. We are part of the community. We hope we can help bring justice to Gabby, her family and this community.”
The firm specializes in personal injury cases and also has Florida offices in Tampa, Zephyrhills and Brandon, as well as in Seattle, Washington.
It did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post.
A Republican lawmaker in Florida has introduced a pro-life bill that closely mirrors that of the Texas law prohibiting abortion after a heartbeat is detected which took effect earlier this month after the U.S. Supreme Court did not respond to an emergency appeal by abortion providers.
CNN reports that Florida House Bill 167, filed by Florida State Representative Webster Barnaby, prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, typically around six weeks into the pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest, domestic violence, human trafficking, or a life-threatening condition. It allows private citizens to bring lawsuits against physicians who provide abortions after six weeks. Under the measure, lawsuits can be brought against any person who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.” The Florida bill allows lawsuits up to six years after the law has been violated, differing slight from the Texas law, which creates a four-year window. Notably, the bill also removes the word “fetus” from the language and replaces it with “unborn child.”
The act states, “a fetal heartbeat is a key medical predictor that an unborn child will reach live birth, and cardiac activity begins at a biologically identifiable moment in time, normally when the fetal heart is formed in the gestational sac…. The State of Florida has a compelling interest from the outset of a woman’s pregnancy in protecting the health of the woman and the life of the unborn child, and in order to make an informed choice about whether to continue her pregnancy, the pregnant woman has a compelling interest in knowing the likelihood of her unborn child surviving to full-term birth based upon the presence of cardiac activity.”
HB 167 has been filed for consideration during the legislative session starting in January, News 4 Jax reported.
Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls welcomed the bill, noting pro-life legislation must be able to withstand legal challenges.
“I have always fought for unborn babies and their right to life, and the Florida House of Representatives has been a national leader in developing pro-life legislation,” Sprowls said through a spokesperson. “Our laws have to be strong enough to jump through multiple levels of judicial scrutiny. We look forward to bringing to the Floor a bill that saves every unborn life possible.”
Pro-life lawmakers became emboldened after Texas’ heartbeat law secured a big win in the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month when the court decided not to act on an emergency petition from Texas abortion clinics.
Politico contends the court’s choice not to act on the petition is likely related to the court’s decision to review Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy in a direct challenge of Roe v. Wade. Experts believe that case may be the opportunity for the high court to reconsider the right to abortion established by that landmark, controversial 1973 decision. Arguments are expected later this year, with a ruling expected in 2022, Politico reported.
With Texas’ law permitted to take effect, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had said that what Texas did was “interesting” and that he would “look a little more significantly at it.”
The Texas law, titled the “Heartbeat Act,” is about to be properly tested as two lawsuits have recently been filed against a Texas doctor who admitted to breaking the state’s new abortion law. In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Dr. Alan Braid said he carried out an abortion for a woman who was in the early stages of her pregnancy but “beyond the state’s limit.”
“I fully understood that there could be legal consequences — but I wanted to make sure that Texas didn’t get away with its bid to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested,” he wrote.
BBC reported that a former lawyer from Arkansas, Oscar Stilley, filed a lawsuit after reading Dr. Braid’s opinion piece, asserting he is not particularly opposed to abortion but is more interested in testing the legality of the law. A second lawsuit was filed by Felipe Gomez of Illinois, who is pro-choice and said he seeks to prove the law is “illegal as written and as applied.”
If the lawsuits are successful, however, they could prove to give the new law the teeth it needs, and will certainly invite other pro-life states to follow in Texas’ footsteps.
CNN reports lawmakers from across 10 states — Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia — have already indicated they planned to introduce measures similar to Texas’ law.
According to Texas Right to Life, Texas is the first state in the nation to “successfully enforce a ban on abortions when the preborn child’s heartbeat is detectable.” Though a number of other states have passed “heartbeat bills,” most have been invalidated by courts, the Christian Post reported. These include bills in Georgia, Missouri, Mississippi, South Carolina (which has since filed an appeal), and Iowa.
Predictably, the response from the pro-abortion community has been angry. 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.”