By John Haughey
The Center Square
September 10, 2021
With the U.S. Supreme Court opting not to review a Texas law prohibiting most abortions at six weeks before it went into effect Wednesday, it’s only a matter of time before a Florida lawmaker files a similar bill for adoption in 2022.
Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-Hills, Wednesday became the first Florida legislator to at least publicly announce he would introduce such a bill when Florida lawmakers convene their 2022 legislative session in January.
“It’s time to pass the Texas ‘Heartbeat’ Bill in Florida – stay tuned. #ProLife,” Sabatini tweeted.
Efforts to adopt a Florida “fetal heartbeat” bill by conservative Republicans have fallen short in previous sessions.
Sabatini was among 21 Republican cosponsors of 2021’s House Bill 351, ‘The Protection of a Pain-capable Unborn Child from Abortion Act,’ which – along with its Senate companion, SB 744, sponsored by Sen. Anthony Rodriquez, R-Miami – never made it out of its first committee.
In 2020, Sabatini and Rep. Mike Hill, R-Pensacola, co-sponsored HB 271, another proposed ‘Fetal Heart Beat Act,’ molded after a 2019 Alabama bill. That, and a similar measure filed by Sen. Dennis Baxley, Lady Lake, also failed to gain committee traction.
Sabatini Wednesday vowed to be the first to file a 2022 Texas-type abortion bill in Florida.
“It’s time to start saving the lives of innocent unborn children in Florida. For three years, I have been the co-sponsor of the “Heartbeat” Bill, fighting the radical left and the weak Republican establishment to get this bill past,” he said in a statement. “The RINOs in Tallahassee have stopped progress every step of the way. It’s time to put them on the record and ensure a vote of the House immediately.”
Sabatini praised the “heroic decision made (Wednesday) night by the Supreme Court to uphold the pro-life ‘Heartbeat’ Bill out of Texas,” and said his Florida version “mirrors Texas’ transformational bill.”
As of midday Thursday, Sabatini’s prospective measure had not materialized among pre-filed 2022 House bills. In fact, since pre-filing began Aug. 1 for the 60-day session that kicks off Jan. 11, no bills containing the term “abortion” had been pre-filed in either chamber.
Since his 2018 election to the House, Sabatini has been an avowed fan of former President Donald Trump and an ideological firebrand in promoting right-wing campaigns, including challenging mask orders adopted by local governments in a series of failed lawsuits.
Sabatini is running for Congress in Central Florida’s 7th Congressional District against incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy unless reapportionment carves out a new congressional district for him, and has pre-filed six 2022 bills, not including the pending abortion measure. They are:
- House Memorial 23, a resolution to be forwarded to Congress seeking the repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 because it has “allowed interactive computer services and social media networks to remove valid conservative perspectives” and “to display bias in determining which perspectives they allow on their platforms.”
- HB 29, which would designate U.S. 27 as “President Donald J. Trump Highway.”
- HB 6001, which “removes option for private employer to verify person’s employment eligibility” under Florida immigration and labor laws, essentially mandating “E-Verify.”
- HB 6007, a 2021 version of previous failed efforts to implement “constitutional carry” in Florida, allowing the open carry of firearms without a permit.
- HB 6009 would remove the “authority of State Health Officer to order vaccination of individuals upon declaration of public health emergency.”
- HB 6013 would dilute state “red flag” laws authorizing seizure of firearms from persons in certain circumstances” and end “prohibition on persons younger than 21 years of age from purchasing firearms.”