House Speaker Chris Sprowls said this week that Rep. Erin Grall, a Republican lawyer from Vero Beach, will take the lead on anti-abortion legislation for the 2022 Legislative Session.
Sprowls has not said whether his chamber will move legislation modeled after a Texas law prohibiting abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually at about six weeks of pregnancy, or, instead, advance some other proposal such as banning women from obtaining abortions because their fetuses will have a disability or a potential disability.
The House on April 23 passed Grall’s HB 1221, the so-called disability abortion bill. The vote drew praise from the Susan B Anthony List, a national anti-abortion group. Ultimately, though, the bill died after Sen. Lauren Book refused to consider the Senate counterpart.
“What I can tell people with certainty is that the House cares about life issues,” Sprowls told Florida Politics this week. “We will advance life legislation, and my wish is that legislation will be carried by Rep. Grall because she does such a great job with it.”
Senate President Wilton Simpson also has indicated a willingness to consider more restrictive abortion laws during the 2022 Legislative Session. He also said he supports providing low-income women access to long-acting, reversible hormonal contraception.
Simpson, a Republican from Trilby, used his influence as Senate President to include $2 million in funding for contraception in the current fiscal year budget. But the Florida Catholic Conference came out in strong opposition to the funding, and Gov. Ron DeSantis ultimately vetoed the money.
“I continue to believe that being pro-life is about more than opposing abortion,” Simpson said in a statement. “I have and will continue to champion funding for options like hormonal long-acting, reversible contraception, which prevents unplanned pregnancies that lead to abortions. Child welfare reforms that support children, parents, and members of the extended family willing to take on child rearing responsibilities are also important to me.”
Senate spokesperson Katie Betta also said Simpson, who was adopted as a child, has concerns with the Texas law because it does not exempt from the ban women who are impregnated as a result of rape or incest. Simpson also has said he does not support the provision of the Texas law that includes financial incentives for reporting, Betta said.
In lieu of state enforcement, the Texas law authorizes citizens to bring civil suits against providers who perform abortions as well as any other person who helps a woman attain an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected.
Florida is one of a handful of Republican-controlled states eyeing more restrictive abortion laws in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision Sept. 2 to not grant an emergency request by abortion providers and others to block the Texas law from taking effect.
The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday was first to report that the Biden administration was preparing to sue the state of Texas over its new law.