Six-week abortion ban clears first House hurdle
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 1/4/23-Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka, R-Fort Myers, chairs the Local Administration, Federal Affairs & Special Districts Subcommittee, Wednesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

The so-called ‘heartbeat bill’ has one more committee stop before it reaches the House floor.

Legislation banning doctors from performing abortions after six weeks is now moving through the House.

The House Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee voted 13-5 for the controversial measure (HB 7) by Fort Myers Republican Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka, with every Republican voting “yes” and every Democrat voting “no.”

The bill, which advanced after more than an hour of mostly oppositional public testimony and several rejected amendments, has one more committee stop before reaching the House floor.

Persons-Mulicka said the legislation is “not solely the reflection” of her personal beliefs. Rather, it’s “the result of listening in an attempt to build consensus around policy that will promote life and support all our mothers and children and families in the state of Florida.”

Unlike existing restrictions the Legislature passed last year limiting abortion to the first 15 weeks of gestation, HB 7 and its counterpart in the Senate (SB 300) includes exceptions for rape and incest.

It would uphold existing exceptions for cases of fetal anomalies and in cases where two doctors confirm the mother is at risk of severe injury or death.

But it also adds further strictures, including a ban on telehealth-prescribed abortion pills, and calls for an expansion of state assistance for new parents seeking counseling and buying baby products. While HB 7 includes no funding for those provisions, SB 300 would earmark $30 million yearly.

Violators of the proposed restrictions would face felony charges punishable by up to 15 years in prison, depending on the nature of their participation and involvement in the procedure.

Republican members of the panel voted down three amendments their Democratic peers proffered. One proposed change by Orlando Rep. Anna Eskamani would have deleted all language pertaining to the six-week ban while keeping the portion offering more state assistance to new parents.

Eskamani, who worked for Planned Parenthood before she won office, stressed the importance of safeguarding reproductive rights and honoring the will of most Floridians, who believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

“I’m incredibly concerned (about) the direction we’re going in Florida,” she said. “A six-week ban … is going to be operationalized as a complete ban, because people do not know they’re pregnant at six weeks.”

The other two amendments by Boca Raton Rep. Kelly Skidmore and Leon County Rep. Allison Tant were more narrowly aimed.

Skidmore’s amendment proposed a minor language change in the list of approved materials that would support a woman’s claim she was the victim of rape or incest. Tant’s amendment, meanwhile, would reduce the number of doctor signatures confirming a pregnant woman’s risk of injury or death to one — something the bill already allows if “another physician is not available for consultation.”

Sarah Parker, a co-founder of Women’s Voice of Southwest Florida, told the panel the discussion over the bill gave her “Lauren Boebert vibes,” referring to the 36-year-old Colorado Congresswoman who last week announced she will soon be a grandmother.

“I’m trying to figure out when we’re going to start celebrating teen pregnancy,” she said. “You know this bill is wildly unpopular. I never thought I would be on the side of Sen. Rick Scott, but here I am. Thank you, again, for imploding yourselves.”

Last year, before the GOP-controlled Legislature approved the current ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he thought that limit was “very reasonable.”

“That’s very consistent with, you know, being supportive of protecting life,” he said in January 2022.

Legislation Deltona Republican Rep. Webster Barnaby carried last year to ban pregnancy termination after six weeks — a measure some call a “heartbeat bill” after a similar Texas law — died unheard.

But in December, DeSantis signaled he would approve of such a bill this year if it passed. When asked if he would “take the lead” on a “heartbeat bill,” he said, “I’m willing to sign great life legislation. That’s what I’ve always said I would do.”

HB 7 will next go to the Health and Human Service Committee before heading to the House floor. SB 300, sponsored by Vero Beach Republican Sen. Erin Grall, is scheduled to go before the Senate Committee on Health Policy on Monday, the first of two committee stops it has in the chamber.


A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics contributed to this report.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Earl Pitts American

    March 16, 2023 at 2:08 pm

    Good afternoon America,
    Babies Lives Matter
    Thank you America,
    Earl Pitts American

    • cassandra

      March 17, 2023 at 2:03 pm

      Your anti-woman hate speech is offensive. You should be ashamed.

      Abortion bans endanger the lives of women and girls. Don’t be fooled by so-called “exceptions”; Doctors are too afraid to save women until they are almost dead, actually dying.

      Women are being denied the only treatment that can save their lives, despite suffering high fevers, passing out, intense pain, severe bleeding—blood filling diapers and running into puddles on the floor or bathtub, rotting infected bodily fluids leaking out of them, hospitalisation, being attached to breathing machines, etc. Symptoms and conditions are often allowed to go on for weeks before a woman can receive a lifesaving abortion.

      The doctors actually stand at the bedside watching the woman get sicker and sicker, knowing that she will die without an abortion, but afraid to treat her until death is expected within minutes or hours.

      The so-called “exceptions” are not real. They are designed to make lawmakers appear compassionate. But politicians and the money-making anti-abortion industry know that doctors are too afraid of prison to provide necessary abortions. And, the “pro-life” industry is celebrating this. The crazed forced-birthers are now demanding total bans with no exceptions—even for the life of the woman.

  • John Wolfe

    March 16, 2023 at 4:46 pm

    This bill should be opposed by our legislators. First, as reported in a recent University of Northern Florida (UNF) poll, a significant majority of the registered voters in Florida oppose this legislation. This opposition is widespread across Republican, Democratic, and, NPA voters. Further, all demographic cohorts are in opposition to restricting a woman’s right to choose her healthcare. This means men, women, white, Black, and Hispanic registered voters oppose this legislation. All age groups oppose this legislation.

    Next, in states where similar bills have become law the impact is far beyond simply stopping abortions at six weeks or at the initial signs of electrical activity taken to mean a heart beat. In many cases women who have experienced a miscarriage are finding it difficult to have unhindered, timely access to the procedures they need. There are multiple cases of physicians being unwilling to provide normal gynecological services to women who have experienced a miscarriage because the physician is concerned about potential legal consequences which could put their medical license at risk.

    Women should have unfettered access to healthcare that the woman and her physician believe is necessary.

    • Earl Pitts American

      March 17, 2023 at 3:50 pm

      Good afternoon John Johnny little John John,
      Even if you were being truthfull we still do not make laws and rules based on mob rule. If you, your boss Satan, and all your dook 4 brains friends want to kill babies and barbeque them for one of your Satanic ritiuals The Great State of Florida is determined to stop and punish you. John the number of voters that want the stink you are pushing is NOT relevant. Stop being stupid please.
      Thank you John,
      Earl Pitts American

      • cassandra

        March 17, 2023 at 10:50 pm

        Who’s this “mob” Earl? You actually think that means that politicians have to do the opposite of whatever the majority wants?

        Over 60% of Republicans are against DePsycho’s 6 week abortion ban, Earl. These politicians are saying FU to the voters.

        And, Earl, *after* you let the government use you as a life support system against your will for 9 months your babbling might be considered an opinion. Until then, Earl, it’s just the ranting of a hypocritical misogynist.

        • Earl Pitts American

          March 18, 2023 at 1:41 pm

          Thank you for doing such a believable job at pretending to oppose my iron fisted will in order to convince the readership that we oppose each other. Our whipping up the readership in the early parts of legislative session to such a frenzy has resulted in a massive pay increase of which I will be breaking you off your standard cut of 1% of 10%. Watch your mailbox girl the big bucks from Earl are headed your way!!!!
          Thanks for your love and loyalty. Earl

    • joey

      March 19, 2023 at 2:31 pm

      They get what they vote for.

  • Arm The Homeless

    March 17, 2023 at 10:12 am

    The GOP wants to desperately avoid talking about TFG and abortion bans, but Mëåtbåll and his cohort have decided that winning primary votes is preferable to scaring the normies.


  • JD

    March 18, 2023 at 7:21 am

    Other than Fake Moniker Pitts, Nobody else seems to think the laws getting passed are good, especially the abortion ones. I sure the hell people remember this when they vote in 2024 and 2026. There’s still a whole lot of independents the GOP counts out. They can be mobilized against them.

    It makes me question the election results, especially with all the new election laws that were passed prior to the 2022 election and Florida pulling out of ERIC.

    Where is that investigation?

    If you could go back to 1933 and stop the Nazis and Hitler, would you? That time may be now. Right-wing cultist fascists under the guise of freedom and Christian values. Give us a break.

    • Earl Pitts American

      March 18, 2023 at 6:23 pm

      Thank you too my right hand man JD for pretending to be against your beloved leader Earl Pitts Amarican. Together you, Cassandra, and of course me, Earl Pitts American, have the FP readership tuning in on the constant to see what we are fighting about next. Our take of the FP revenue is way up and I will be sending fat checks to both you and Cassandra. Thanking you guys for making us rich!!! Keep up the gpod work JD.
      Earl Pitts Ametican

    • Kenneth C Kovar

      March 18, 2023 at 10:00 pm

      Exactly, the far right republicans are outdoing themselves to appeal to a more extreme base. The independents are going to be lost in the next election cycle!

      • Earl Pitts American

        March 19, 2023 at 7:59 pm

        Good evening Kenneth,
        I’m not sure if your post makes any effin sense. But then again that’s the whole point of pretending to be a leftist…Right?
        So you totally got your Boss, Earl Pitts American, loving your 4 level chess skills. And for your superior genious I’m giving you a generous little something extra in your pay envelope my Main Man Kenneth.
        After much thought and contimplation I, Earl Pitts American, decree that you have in fact written the perfect Country and Western song…oh my bad I was listining to David Allen Coe…I ment to say you have authored the perfect psuedo leftist dysphoric post.
        Keep up the great work Kenneth,
        Earl ( your boss) Pitts American

  • joey

    March 19, 2023 at 2:33 pm

    Thats what you get when you vote for crazy GOP. I am happy they do everything. Next time vote smarter. Meantime the Insurance crisis continue.

Comments are closed.


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