Weeks after the state of Alabama enacted one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country, a Florida lawmaker is looking to follow suit — on the advice of God, according to him.
Florida Rep. Mike Hill (R) will sponsor a bill similar to the one passed in Alabama, according to the Pensacola News Journal. Hill had previously sponsored a six-week abortion ban in an earlier Florida legislature session, only for it to get marooned in committee.
According to the Journal, Hill claims to have received instruction from God while delivering a speech at an anti-abortion rally earlier this year. Specifically, Hill says, God instructed him to remove any or all exceptions for “rape, incest, domestic violence, human trafficking or if the woman’s life is in danger” that he included in his previous bill:
“As plain as day, God spoke to me,” Hill said. “He said that wasn’t my bill, talking about the heartbeat detection bill that I filed. He said that wasn’t my bill. I knew immediately what he was talking about. He said, you remove those exceptions and you file it again. And I said yes Lord, I will. It’s coming back. It’s coming back. We are going to file that bill without any exceptions just like what we saw passed in Alabama.”
Hill told a group in Pensacola on Thursday that he believes his revised bill will pass, and vowed to ignore the advice offered by his fellow Republicans, with an eye toward making his previous bill more acceptable, the next time around. That included offering the aforementioned exceptions, and allowing a woman lawmaker to be the public face of the bill.
“They said, ‘Well it seems to be accepted more, particularly during debate when a woman is presenting it,’” Hill said. “I said, wait a minute, a hundred percent of all pregnancies are caused by a man, so why can’t a man be involved in this? And that child that is there, 50% chance it’s going to be a man. Why can’t a man present this? That doesn’t hold any water with me at all.”
Hill has not indicated how his bill will aim to restrict the sexual and reproductive freedoms of men, if at all.
So-called “fetal heartbeat” bills seek to restrict the legal period during which an abortion is permissible under the law to a shortened window of time, typically five to six weeks. Women and gender minorities who aren’t actively planning to have children are normally not likely to detect whether or not they are pregnant in that time.
As HuffPost’s Erin Schumaker has noted, the entire notion of a “fetal heartbeat” that early in gestation is based on scientific illiteracy.
As Dr. Rebecca Cohen, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology from the University of Colorado, explained: “It’s not a fully formed heart like you would understand from looking at an adult or even a young child…It’s a very early structure. We can see it on the ultrasound, but it’s not a heart, a fully developed organ, by any means.”
Alabama’s abortion ban — signed into law last week — is not a six-week abortion ban. Rather, it makes all abortions a Class A felony, unless the health of the pregnant person is at risk. While people seeking patients are exempt from criminal and civil liability, doctors can be punished with up to 99 years in prison.
This year, eight states have passed laws limiting access to abortion. In this recent spate of attempts to curtail reproductive rights, lawmakers have leaned heavily on ideas that lack any basis in sound science and which would ordinarily indicate a dangerous lack of knowledge of basic human reproduction. In one such instance, Ohio state Rep. John Becker (R), arguing for a bill that would prohibit insurance companies from covering abortion in cases where the pregnant person’s life was not in danger, included language that would allow insurance companies to cover “a procedure for an ectopic pregnancy, that is intended to reimplant the fertilized ovum into the pregnant woman’s uterus.”
This procedure, a medical impossibility, has never been performed in human history.