Tallahassee, FL — The Florida Senate on April 3rd, 2023, passed 2023 Senate Bill 300, the Heartbeat Protection Act, introduced by Florida State Senator Erin Grall (R-Vero Beach). The bill prohibits abortions after six weeks of gestation, with exceptions made for victims of rape, incest, human trafficking, or cases where the baby has been diagnosed with a fatal fetal abnormality.
Senator Grall emphasized Florida’s role as a leader in defending the rights of the unborn and expressed hope that the legislation would make Florida a “beacon of hope” for those who believe in the sanctity of life. Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) added that the bill demonstrates Florida’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable and supporting families, while also addressing the exceptions for rape, incest, and human trafficking.
The Heartbeat Protection Act, which relies on the gestational period definition established in HB 5 (2022), maintains the current exceptions for the life and health of the mother. It also clarifies that the exception for fatal fetal abnormalities is applicable until the third trimester, as opposed to viability.
The legislation introduces a new exception for victims of rape, incest, and human trafficking, allowing for abortions up to 15 weeks gestation. To hold violent perpetrators accountable and prevent further abuse, the bill includes reporting requirements for such cases.
SB 300 also mandates that abortions be performed in-person by a medical doctor or osteopathic physician, ensuring that medication abortions are dispensed in person and not delivered through mail or courier services.
The Heartbeat Protection Act aims to support families and parents who choose life for their unborn children by providing counseling, mentoring services, and nonmedical material assistance such as car seats, cribs, clothing, formula, and diapers. The Senate’s proposed state budget, SB 2500, which was also passed earlier today, allocates significant funding for Florida’s families, including $474.7 million for extended post-partum care coverage, family planning, MomCare, Healthy Start, and the expansion of the Telehealth Minority Maternity Care Pilot program to 10 counties with the highest rates of severe maternal morbidity.
Florida State Democratic Senator Linda Stewart (Orange County) put out a small, lackluster Press Release, criticizing the passage of SB 300.
Stewart called the passage of SB 300 an “insult to women” and an attack on reproductive healthcare rights. What Democrats call abortion “reproductive healthcare,” many conservatives disagree, instead referring to it as killing an unborn baby in the womb.
Stewart even went as far as to call abortion “pregnancy terminating care” and was critical of the ban on getting abortion drugs in the mail.
Conservatives have instead been pushing for more Pregnancy Resource Centers, such as Care Net and A Caring Center for Women.
Care Net helps expectant mothers and continue to help two years after they give birth to their baby.
Indian River County’s Executive Director for Care Net Bonnie Martinelli said “mothers of newborns need help after their baby is born with resources and referrals.”
Care Net’s services are free of charge.
A Caring Center for Women’s Marketing Manager Julia said A Caring Center for Women “equips mothers by providing pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, parenting classes and ongoing support with tangible goods for their family. These services empower women to choose to continue their pregnancies, and rise above their circumstances.”
Julia also said their services are free of charge and their staff speaks English, Spanish and Creole, a Native American Language.
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