‘Heartbeat’ abortion ban approved by first Senate committee

Democrats decried 'legislative overreach', claimed the bill would kill women and girls.

A bill that would ban abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy cleared the Florida Senate’s Health Policy committee Monday.

That was the first of two Senate committees for one of the most controversial bills of the Legislative Session.

SB 300, filed by Fort Pierce Republican Sen. Erin Grall, would ban doctors from knowingly performing or inducing a termination of pregnancy after the sixth week of gestation. This would represent a change from the current 15-week threshold, which legislators hailed as a reasonable compromise when they passed it last year.

2022’s HB 5 made no exception for cases of rape and incest, a controversy at the time. However, the current bill would allow abortion up to the 15th week of pregnancy if the woman was impregnated by rape or incest or a combination thereof. Grall clarified in committee that a statutory rape would count as rape because minors cannot consent to sex legally.

“Where we are today is different than we were a year ago,” Grall said, noting the overturning of Roe v. Wade gave the states renewed ability to impose “the strongest protections for innocent life” possible, making Florida “a beacon of hope for those who understand that all life is sacred and must be protected.”

Other exceptions would apply. If the pregnant woman is judged by two doctors to be in danger of dying or suffering “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman other than a psychological condition,” she could have an abortion. If only one doctor were available, that sole physician’s recommendation would suffice also.

Likewise, if the fetus had a “fatal abnormality,” abortion would be permitted during the first two trimesters.

Democratic lawmakers unsuccessfully floated several amendments to the bill. These included one removing the two physicians requirement, one adding human trafficking as a condition for an exception, one rescinding the bill’s ban on telehealth and pharmaceutical abortion, and one stripping the bill of $25 million in funding for Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

After dozens of speakers, many medical professionals and most against the bill, had their say, outnumbered Democrats tried yet again to stop the train.

Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book said the bill was an example of “stripping health care access” for women, noting that for many women, $600 for the procedure would be prohibitive.

“If this bill is passed, it will kill women and girls,” Book said, calling the bill a “big government” measure that’s “the very opposite of the word we throw around here a lot, which is freedom.”

“Where does the legislative overreach end? If I have to be honest, sitting here, I don’t see it ending anytime soon,” said Sen. Tracie Davis, who described her own decision to have an abortion “as a married woman with an adult child.”

Davis acknowledged what she had to say “wouldn’t change any minds on this committee,” but urged her colleagues “to consider the road we are going down.”

The bill may have a major supporter in the executive branch. Gov. Ron DeSantis said he was “willing to sign” such legislation last year, and he said the same thing Tuesday to reporters in Tallahassee.

“Exceptions are sensible. And like I said, we welcome pro-life legislation,” DeSantis said.

The companion bill is moving in the House also. Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka’s HB 7 has cleared one committee already, and has one stop ahead.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Earl Pitts American

    March 20, 2023 at 7:41 pm

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

    • cassandra

      March 20, 2023 at 10:09 pm

      Women’s lives matter, Earl. There are no babies involved in abortion.

      Take your medication, Earl!

  • PeterH

    March 21, 2023 at 1:16 am

    This draconian law will be the highlight of the upcoming presidential debate. Butter that popcorn!

  • Christine Whiteleather

    March 21, 2023 at 9:12 am

    Many,many women and young girls don’t even know they are pregnant until 8 to 10-12 weeks into their pregnancy.
    We are going back to male dominating bills being drawn up against a female’s choice of what she does with her own body. Stop this madness.

  • cassandra

    March 21, 2023 at 1:08 pm

    Religious extremist DeSantis believes he has a God-given right to monitor and control women’s bodies.

    Ronald recently tried to force girls to report their reproductive cycles to him, and is now trying to ban little girls from talking about their own bodies. As if both groups’ reproductive systems belong to him instead of the girls.

    DeSanctimonious has also repeatedly vetoed contraceptives for poor women and teenagers at the request/demand of HIS church. He appears to be enjoying the control over women’s bodies and lives.

  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    March 21, 2023 at 2:57 pm

    This is terrible public policy. Rep. Grall says “”The point of this bill is that when we know life is present, we have an obligation to protect it,…”The point of our objections is that FEW women know they’re pregnant at 6 weeks. I’m a Republican. I would eagerly be plaintiff opposing this bill

    • Ocean Joe

      March 21, 2023 at 4:43 pm

      It’s a lot simpler.
      They want to ban all abortions at any stage.
      They want to ban the morning after pill.
      They have a super majority and a willing governor who wants to win primaries.
      It will take a constitutional amendment save a woman’s right to an abortion.
      They know this, and that’s why they are also pushing to raise passage of a constitutional amendment from 60% to 66%.

  • Sierra

    March 24, 2023 at 5:05 pm

    What I don’t think Cristo fascists like Erin Katherine Grall care to realize (or refuse to admit) is that the almost total abortion ban is going to plummet Floridians, even further below the poverty line than they already were.

    Because Erin is a rich little rich, WASP princess (who grew up with a rich lawyer, and daddy, and is now via the nepotism clause was made partner at her Daddys firm,)

    she is part of the only 15% of Floridians who make over 90k a year she perhaps just naïvely doesn’t seem to understand the catastrophic effect forced birth, will cause for already struggling for the families.

    Last year a Brookings Institution analysis showed that From the day your baby is born (until the day they turn 18,) the average American family will spend just over 310 thousand dollars on that child.

    This adds up to about 17k a year, and unless Erin plans on adding a provision to the bill, (that would give families 17 K tax write-offs for their forced births) this is absolutely going to cripple the families and therein the Florida economy.

    In her creepy obsession to further the Christian nationalist agenda to blur the lines between church and state she will absolutely be single-handedly responsible for destroying the Florida economy. I hope she is proud of herself .

Comments are closed.


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