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The CRC completed its work and submitted its final report. This website is maintained for archival purposes.

Florida Constitution Revision Commission

PUB 700775: Protect Human Life, Beginning With the First Heartbeat by Harrison Russell Lewis


Catchline: Protect Human Life, Beginning With the First Heartbeat



            (a) Since heartbeat is a clear indicator of a distinct human life, it shall be the duty of the state of Florida to protect every human life as soon as the individual has a medically detectable heartbeat. No person shall intentionally (by medical means or otherwise) end (or assist in ending) the life of a baby in the womb from the moment there is a medically detectable heartbeat.

            (b) The exemption to this section is that if while a physician attempts to save the life of the mother, the baby’s life is involuntarily ended. The legislature shall determine by law the procedures for a doctor to follow if he or she believes that a termination of the life of the baby in the womb shall be unavoidable to save the mother’s physical life. (With regard to rape and incest, the child should not receive the death penalty because of the crime of the father. And, if any child is “unwanted” by his or her parents and their relatives, our state will seek to find a protective and loving family for the child via our state’s adoption process.) 

            (c) The mother shall be exempt from the penalty in this section. Whoever violates subsection (a) is guilty of a felony of no less than the second degree on a first offense and a felony of the third degree on each subsequent offense.

            (d) During the next legislative session or at a special session following the regular session, the legislature shall further carry out the purpose of this section by appropriate legislation. Neither this section nor any other in the Constitution shall preclude the Legislature from enacting laws that protect life at an earlier time than is provided in this section. 

            (e) As used in this section the following terms are defined to mean:

                        (1) "Medically detectable heartbeat" means cardiac activity or the steady and repetitive rhythmic contraction of the fetal heart within the gestational sac that is detectable by means of standard medical practice.

                        (2) "Gestational sac" means the structure that comprises the extraembryonic membranes that envelop the fetus and that is typically visible by ultrasound after the fourth week of pregnancy.

                        (3) "Baby in the womb" means the human offspring developing during pregnancy from the moment of conception and includes the embryonic and fetal stages of development.

                        (4) "Pregnancy" means the human female reproductive condition that begins with fertilization and ends at live birth, when the woman is carrying the developing human offspring, and that is calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the woman.

                        (5) "Standard medical practice" means the degree of skill, care, and diligence that a physician of the same medical specialty would employ in like circumstances. As applied to the method used to determine the presence of a fetal heartbeat "standard medical practice" includes employing the appropriate means of detection depending on the estimated gestational age of the fetus and the condition of the woman and her pregnancy.