GOP lawmaker files Texas-style bounty-hunter abortion bill in Florida Legislature

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fairly difficult
A Florida version of the Texas law banning abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy and allowing citizens to sue people who provide or enable abortions has landed in Tallahassee in the form of HB 167, filed by Republican Webster Barnaby of Volusia County. Barnaby's bill, filed Wednesday, mimics...
A Florida version of the Texas law banning abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy and allowing citizens to sue people who provide or enable abortions has landed in Tallahassee in the form of HB 167, filed by Republican Webster Barnaby of Volusia County.

Barnaby's bill , filed Wednesday, mimics key provisions of the Texas law — for example, forbidding abortions when medical workers use sonography to detect "cardiac activity or the steady and repetitive rhythmic contraction of the fetal heart within the gestational sac."

The only specific exemption in the bill is in case of "medical emergency." However, it retains language in existing law barring public funding for abortions except in cases of rape or incest or when "medically necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman or to avert a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman, other than a psychological condition."

The bill carries no criminal sanctions, leaving enforcement to private citizens who have reason to suspect neighbors of seeking early abortions. They'd take medical providers to court and, as a reward, they could receive court-ordered judgments of $10,000 per case. Defendants would have to shoulder their own legal costs.

Also liable would be persons who "aid or abet" such abortions, defined as "including, but not limited to, paying for or reimbursing the costs of an abortion through insurance or otherwise, if the abortion is performed or induced in violation of this chapter, regardless of whether the person knew or should have known that the abortion would be performed or induced in violation of this chapter."

Many women don't realize they are pregnant until well after six weeks. The effect of the bill could be to make abortion all but unavailable in Florida; the Texas law forced clinics there to turn away patients, who flooded clinics in neighboring states, according to an Associated Press report.

Barnaby's…
Michael Moline, Florida Phoenix
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