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Abortion debate will be front and center in Florida during 2020 legislative session

One bill would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat could be detected

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida lawmakers have filed a dozen bills dealing with abortion for the 2020 legislative session.

Pro-choice advocate Lauren Brenzel with Planned Parenthood said everything is on the line.

“If 2019 told us anything it’s that attempting to restrict abortion is unfortunately on anti-abortion legislators’ minds,” Brenzel said.

One bill would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat could be detected, which could be as early as six weeks. Senate President Bill Galvano said that the bill won’t go anywhere.

“That’s a tougher issue to get through,” Galvano said.

But legislation that would require minors to get parental consent before having an abortion is moving full speed ahead.

“This is something to support the family and require the kids to have a conversation about something so weighty with their parents,” said Senate sponsor Kelli Stargel.

It’s already teed up for a floor vote in the House and the Senate President expects it to pass its second Senate committee during the first week of the 2020 session.

While the parental consent bill isn't the most restrictive abortion bill filed this year, it could act as a test to see how far the newly conservative State Supreme Court is willing to allow lawmakers to go.

Pro-choice advocates fear the court could overturn a previous ruling that found a similar law violated the privacy clause in the state constitution.

“We have a higher constitutional protection for access to abortion than actually the United States Constitution and it’s one of the reasons why Florida functions differently than other states in the South. Why we don’t see that massive restriction,” said Brenzel.

That could open the door for even more restrictive abortion laws, including the heartbeat bill.

Heartbeat laws have been passed in10 states and are expected to pass an eleventh later this month.

Courts have temporarily blocked or struck the laws so far in every state.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a state has put forth a proposed constitutional amendment, that would prohibit either chamber from passing restrictions on abortion unless half of the members are women.

So far it has not been scheduled for a hearing.