Poll: Majority of Floridians Support Law Restricting Abortion After Heartbeat Is Detected

A pro-life activist holds a model fetus during a demonstration in front of the U.S. Suprem
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A majority of Floridians say they support legislation to protect unborn babies once a heartbeat can be detected, a new poll found.

Ragnar Research conducted the poll on behalf of SBA Pro-Life America and the Florida Family Policy Council with 500 Floridians between February 27-March with a ±4 percent margin of error. The survey was conducted before Florida Republican lawmakers introduced similar bills in the state House and Senate on Tuesday which would ban abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy with exceptions.

Overall, the survey shows 62 percent of Floridians support legislation to protect unborn babies when a heartbeat is detected — around six weeks of pregnancy — with exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. By sex, 58 percent of women and 66 percent of men say they would support a six-week heartbeat law. By age group, 60 percent of 18-44-year-olds, 68 percent of 45-64-year-olds, 55 percent Floridians 65 and up say they would support such a law.

By ethnicity, 58 percent of white respondents, 76 percent of Hispanics, 61 percent of black respondents, would support a six-week law. That sentiment is shared by 69 percent of Florida Republican voters, 54 percent of Democrats, and 61 percent of independents, according to the survey report. Twelve percent of Floridians say they are unsure, and 26 percent say they would not support a six-week heartbeat law.

“When it comes to protecting children in Florida, both born and unborn, we should always do the right thing irrespective of the political consequences. But it is also good to know that over 60 percent of Floridians want to see an unborn child protected after a detectable heartbeat,” said John Stemberger, president and general counsel of the Florida Family Policy Council.

“This makes a heartbeat bill in Florida good policy and good politics. We will continue to work to protect mothers and their unborn children and advocate for providing help and support for them through both private and public resources. We can and should love them both,” Stemberger continued. 

Poll respondents were additionally asked: “Does knowing that the heart is the first functioning organ to develop and circulates oxygenated blood to low the baby to grow make you more likely or less likely to support a heartbeat bill?” Forty-nine percent of respondents say that knowledge makes them more likely, including 34 percent who say “much more likely” and 16 percent who say “somewhat more likely.” 

Twenty-six percent say they do no know, and 25 percent say “less likely,” including 15 percent who say “much less likely” and 10 percent who say “somewhat less likely.” 

When asked: “Scientific evidence shows that the presence of a child’s heartbeat in the womb indicates a very high likelihood of survival to childbirth. Does this evidence make you more likely or less likely to support a heartbeat bill?” 51 percent of respondents say “more likely” while 24 percent do not know and 24 percent are “less likely.” 

Respondents were also asked: “Heartbeat Protection v. No Protection: Which of the following comes closest to your opinion?” and “Heartbeat v. 15-Week Protection v. No Protection: Which of the following comes closest to your opinion?”

When choosing between heartbeat protection versus no protection, 61 percent say they support “limiting abortions after heartbeat has been detected with exceptions.” Sixteen percent say they do not know and 23 percent say they want “abortion without restriction for any reason. “

When given the option between heartbeat protection, versus 15-week protection or no protection, 40 percent support limiting abortion after a heartbeat has been detected with exceptions. Twenty-four support limiting abortion at 15 weeks with exceptions, 15 percent do not know, and 21 percent support abortion without restriction for any reason. Overall, the 64 percent of respondents for this question support limits with exceptions, while 21 percent support abortion on demand. 

The pollster concluded that the results show “support is strong whether Floridians are presented alternatives or just considering the bill on its own, and support for a heartbeat bill is far stronger than opposition.” 

“Even if you combine those who don’t have an opinion with those who oppose any restrictions, you still have a minority of only 36 percent,” Ragnar Research detailed. “Opposing this commonsense bill will be an unpopular position for any legislator except for those in highly polarized districts. No matter how the question is asked, strong majorities of Floridians want to see a heartbeat bill passed.”

SBA Pro-Life America’s southern regional director Caitlin Connors said the survey’s results show that “Floridians are compassionate and recognize the science of human life in the womb.” 

“When an unborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected, that child has more than a 90% chance of surviving to birth. It stands to reason that they and their mothers are deserving of protection in the law,” Connors continued.  “As the 2023 legislative session commences, Florida’s strong pro-life Gov. Ron DeSantis and legislative leaders have the opportunity to keep pro-life success and momentum going, widening the circle of protection to reflect the will of the people and save thousands of lives each year.”

Florida law currently protects unborn children at 15 weeks of pregnancy, a point by which studies have shown an unborn baby can feel pain. Though the law is being challenged by pro-abortion groups, it remains in effect.

The proposed six-week ban, SB300 and HB7, would expand the state’s current 15-week abortion ban that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed last year. DeSantis has previously signaled that he would sign a six-week heartbeat law.

“We’re for pro-life. I urge the legislature to work, produce good stuff, and we will sign,” DeSantis said during a news conference last month, adding that he is “willing to sign great life legislation.”

“That’s what I’ve always wanted to do,” DeSantis added.

The proposed legislation comes after pro-life groups in the state warned that Florida is becoming “an abortion-destination state.” Florida also notably has one the highest abortion rates in the country. 

“What you may not realize is that since the Dobbs decision came out in June, abortions have actually increased in the state of Florida with us being an abortion-destination state for women from our border states because their abortion laws are currently more restrictive than ours,” said Scott Baier, CEO of Community Pregnancy Clinics, which is Florida’s largest system of pro-life crisis pregnancy clinics. 

“Barring pending legislation, which may or may not happen, currently babies under 15 weeks are not protected by the law, while 90 percent of all abortions happen in the first trimester,” he said, before the legislation was introduced.

The White House also admitted that surrounding states rely on Florida’s current 15-week abortion law, when condemning the proposed six-week ban in a press conference on Tuesday. 

“This ban would prevent not just the nearly 4 million Florida women of reproductive age from accessing abortion care after six weeks, but would also impact the nearly 15 million women of reproductive age who live in states across the South with abortion bans and would no longer be able to rely on Florida as an option to access care,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

Data from the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) confirms that Florida saw thousands more women coming from out of state for abortions in 2022 compared to previous years, as well as more abortions overall and more second trimester abortions. In 2022, 6,708 abortions were performed on out-of-state patients, up from 4,873 in 2021, and 3,988 in 2020.

And as Florida’s population has grown, so has the total number of abortions, with 82,192 total abortions in 2022,  75,118 of which were in the first trimester, and 7,074 in the second trimester, according to the AHCA. In 2021, there were 79,817 total abortions, 74,967 of which were in the first trimester, and 4,850 in the second trimester. The year 2020 saw 74,868 total abortions, with 70,594 in the first trimester and 4,274 in the second trimester. 


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