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  • Jean Siebenaler

ACTION ALERT: PROTECT WOMEN’S HEALTH RIGHTS IN FLORIDA

As many of you know, Texas recently passed SB 8 The Texas Heartbeat Act, a draconian law that bans all abortions after a heartbeat can be detected. This bill is added to their already restrictive abortion laws: patients are forced to receive in-person state-mandated "counseling" that discourages abortion; pregnant patients must make two trips to a health center 24 hours apart to receive care; a ban on telemedicine for prescription of medication abortions; a ban on public and private insurance coverage for abortion; and parental consent and notification is required to obtain an abortion.

Fetal heartbeats can be detected around “6 weeks of pregnancy.” Most women – especially those who are not trying to get pregnant or who have irregular menstrual cycles – do not yet know they are pregnant at that time. After all, a pregnancy is dated by starting with the first date of the last menstrual period (LMP), which is a crazy time to start the clock because the pivotal sexual intercourse act has yet to occur! In fact, the sperm typically fertilizes the ovulated egg about 2 weeks after the LMP, which then travels through the Fallopian tubes implanting in the uterus about 3 weeks after the LMP. So, someone who is 6 weeks pregnant really has only had the embryo in the uterus for about 3 weeks, and depending on the regularity of the menstrual cycle, may not have yet missed a period.

This law bans most abortions in Texas. Clinics around the state have stopped providing abortions beyond 6 weeks of pregnancy, which is itself an unconstitutional slap in the face to women by essentially overturning Roe v. Wade. But it is the unique mechanism for enforcement that sends fascist shivers down our spines. This law turns family, neighbors, friends and even strangers in other states into vigilantes who can sue and collect at least $10,000 bounties if they even suspect that someone in Texas is trying to obtain or is “aiding or abetting” someone to obtain an abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy.

Here are some more facts about this Texas bill:


  • In addition to suing medical providers, there is no limit to the number of lawsuits that can be filed by someone against ordinary people who they consider to be “aiding or abetting” the patient to obtain an abortion. This includes people or entities who give money for the abortion, counselors, parents, friends, clergy, and even Uber/Lyft/taxi drivers who drop off the patient at the clinic.

  • The problem is that defining the term “aiding or abetting” is murky, and that is the intention. The law is intended to make people scared to talk and act. If everyone is frozen in fear, nothing happens. Just the fear of being sued cuts down on the number of medical providers and other people willing to help pregnant women realize their constitutional rights.

  • There is no downside for a plaintiff to file a lawsuit since if the plaintiff (suer) wins, the defendant must pay for all costs and legal fees. If the defendant wins, the law prohibits the plaintiff from being ordered to pay any of the defendants’ legal fees. Win-win for the plaintiff.

  • There is no exception in the law for rape or incest, only to save the life of the mother if emergently required.

  • Partners and parents, including abusive ones, can force their pregnant partners and children to continue their pregnancies against their wishes.


And here is the kicker. Florida Senate President (Simpson) and Florida Speaker of the House (Sprowls) have stated their intent to pursue similar legislation in Florida during this next session. They are working on a bill now, but one has not yet been filed. It is incumbent on all of us to stand up and fight now for our constitutional rights and stop the spread of these malicious laws that place bounties on women’s heads.

So please contact our own State Legislators below, tell them that you do not support any further restrictions on abortion and will strongly oppose any efforts to do so.

Senator Doug Broxson

broxson.doug.web@flsenate.gov

(850)-487-5001

Representative Jayer Williamson

Jayer.Williamson@myfloridahouse.gov

(850) 717-5003

Representative Alex Andrade

Alex.Andrade@myfloridahouse.gov

(850) 717-5002

Representative Michelle Salzman

Michelle.Salzman@myfloridahouse.gov

(850) 717-5001


Also send a message to the Republican legislators listed below. They need to hear from folks throughout the state.

Senate President Wilton Simpson

simpson.wilton@flsenate.gov

Tallahassee #: (850) 487-5010

District #: (352) 688-5077


Senator Kathleen Passidomo

passidomo.kathleen@flsenate.gov

Tallahassee #: (850) 487-5028

District #: (239) 417-6205


Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez

rodriguez.anamaria@flsenate.gov

Tallahassee #: (850) 487-5039

District #: (305) 470-2552


Speaker Chris Sprowls

Chris.Sprowls@myfloridahouse.gov

Tallahassee #: (850) 717-5065

District #: (727) 793-2810


Representative Linda Chaney

Linda.Chaney@myfloridahouse.gov

Tallahassee #: (850) 717-5069

District #: (727) 341-7385


Representative Renee Plascencia

Rene.Plasencia@myfloridahouse.gov

Tallahassee #: (850) 717-5050

District #: (321) 383-5151


Representative Jackie Toledo

Jackie.Toledo@myfloridahouse.gov

Tallahassee #: (850) 717-5060

District #: (813) 281-5549


Thank you. We will continue to monitor the Florida Legislature and keep you informed of next steps.

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