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New Legislation Introduced In Florida Would Make Abortions Third-Degree Felony after Heartbeat Detected


A new controversial bill introduced in the Florida Legislature would make abortions a third-degree felony if performed “once a fetal heartbeat is detected,” with exceptions built in for life-threatening situations. In fact, it makes any abortion illegal if a doctor determines that “the unborn human being achieved viability or has a detectable fetal heartbeat. The bill would change the current law, which allows abortions to be performed up until 24 weeks.

How Is The Bill Worded? What Does It Cover?

The law provides for a number of other requirements that doctors should be aware of—requirements that carry serious repercussions if they are not followed—including:

  • Mandating that the woman’s physician not only offer her the ability to view or hear the fetal heartbeat, but also present her with statistical data regarding the probability of survival. If she declines, she must certify in writing if she declines to review these results, and indicate that she did so of her own free will and not due to undue influence;
  • Requiring that physicians perform very specific examinations in order to detect that fetal heartbeat early on in the pregnancy;
  • Defining the fetal heartbeat to cover “any cardiac activity or the steady and repetitive rhythmic contraction of the fetal heart within the gestational sac”;
  • Adding “the development of an unborn human being” onto the definition of “gestation,” and replacing “fetal development ”with “gestational development ”throughout the bill;
  • Replacing the term “fetus” with “unborn human being” throughout the bill; and
  • Defining “unborn human being” as “an individual organism of the species Homo sapiens from fertilization until live birth”.

According to one Planned Parenthood representative, the bill is so comprehensive, broad, and vague that it is “the most dangerous that they have seen for reproductive health in the Florida legislature” and is “blatantly unconstitutional.”

The Criminal Prosecution of Doctors

While it is rare, it is entirely possible for doctors to be criminally prosecuted for errors, including those linked to abortion procedures. This bill is arguably the first step in treating abortions “like regular homicide under the criminal code and, in some instances, progressing onto punishing women who obtain abortions.” According to research, since 1973, more than 400 women have been prosecuted in “fetal demise” cases; accused of violating pregnancy-related laws that remain on the books. In addition, where abortion is illegal, there is often a certain amount of wrongful death associated with medical errors and complications.

Contact Our Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys to Find Out More

If you are facing third-degree felony charges due to a controversial law that arguably violates your rights and/or the rights of others, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys of The Baez Law Firm to find out how we can help.


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