Florida Court Will Block 15-Week Abortion Ban

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
June 30, 2022 1:15 pm

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida court indicated today that it would issue an order blocking the state’s 15-week ban on abortion. The law — which is scheduled to take effect tomorrow, July 1 — prevents people from getting an abortion and threatens to imprison doctors for providing necessary care for their patients. The law is likely to go into effect for a short time while the court prepares the written order, but the court made clear today that the law will be enjoined shortly. Plaintiffs will also seek to quickly vacate any stay that is imposed upon an appeal from the state.

Two-thirds of Floridians support the right to abortion, and voters have consistently cast their ballots to ensure that the state constitution provides independent protection for the right to abortion. House Bill 5 (HB 5) is blatantly unconstitutional under the state constitution. In 1980, Florida voters amended the state constitution to provide broad protections for individual privacy rights — including abortion. And in 2012, voters overwhelmingly rejected Amendment 6, which would have taken those protections away. While the U.S. Supreme Court’s shameful ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization took away the federal constitutional right to abortion, the Florida Constitution provides broad, independent protections for abortion. These protections, which have been repeatedly affirmed by Florida voters and decades of legal precedents, continue to protect Floridians’ fundamental right to abortion.

Floridians already face burdensome restrictions to getting an abortion — such as a ban on insurance plans on the state exchange covering abortion; a parental consent requirement that makes it harder for young people to get abortions; and a law that took effect in April that requires people to make an additional, unnecessary trip to an abortion provider before receiving care. There are also many other barriers to access for people who need abortion care, including delays in finding out they’re pregnant, difficulty affording essential health care, and a lack of nearby providers.

HB 5 would force Floridians to remain pregnant against their will, violating their dignity and bodily autonomy, and endangering their families, their health, and even their lives. The impacts of pushing reproductive health care out of reach in the middle of a maternal mortality crisis will fall hardest on Black women, who are nearly three times more likely than white women to die during childbirth, or shortly after.

Below are statements from plaintiffs and litigators:

“We’re glad the court recognized Florida’s abortion ban is a cruel attack on people’s health, futures, and state constitutional rights,” said Whitney White, staff attorney, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Florida’s 15-week ban would force people to carry pregnancies against their will, risking their health and depriving them of the right to make deeply personal decisions about the course of their own lives. This ban defies the will of the people and rights that Floridians have relied on for decades. Everyone deserves the ability to access the abortion care they need and we’ll continue fighting for that right with every tool at our disposal.”

“In the wake of a cataclysmic Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, it is more critical than ever to protect abortion access in Florida,” said Caroline Sacerdote, staff attorney, Center for Reproductive Rights. “As the Florida Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized, the Florida constitution protects the right to abortion. The court has rightfully stood by that precedent today. The state’s 15-week ban is an insult to Floridians, the majority of whom have voiced their support time and time again for their right to make decisions about their own bodies and futures. We will continue to stand by Floridians to protect their health and lives. Everyone, everywhere should be able to access essential health care regardless of zip code.”

“While Floridians may soon be able to breathe a sigh of relief, make no mistake, abortion access is in real peril in our state. Already, lawmakers have made it incredibly difficult for our patients to access the essential health care they need and for us to provide that care,” said Kelly Flynn, president & CEO, A Woman’s Choice clinics. “There has been chaos and confusion among patients since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. We cannot let Florida turn the clock back. Our patients shouldn’t have to worry if and when they can access abortion care, and we will continue to fight to protect their health and lives.”

“Today in Florida, there is a glimmer of hope for abortion access: once the Court enters its order, Floridians will continue to have access to care protected under their state’s constitution. They’ll continue to be able to decide what is best for their own bodies, lives, and futures, without political interference,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “This decision could not come at a more crucial time. As abortion bans ripple across the country, Floridians need to be able to access care at home — and their neighbors need to be able to turn to Florida’s abortion providers as well. Planned Parenthood pledges to be there for anyone seeking an abortion in Florida, no matter what.”

“While this is only a first step in fighting this dangerous abortion ban, we are grateful this court recognized that it is an unconstitutional intrusion on our patients’ and providers’ medical decisions,” said Stephanie Fraim, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. “Once this ban is blocked, Florida abortion providers will be able to offer patients who decide to have an abortion the care they need here at home. Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida will continue to stand with all abortion providers and the patients who turn to them.”

“Abortion bans have no place in Florida, and today, this court agreed that the 15-week ban has no place under the state’s constitution,” said Alex Mandado, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida. “This ban forces pregnant people to decide between the burden of traveling out-of-state for care at great financial and emotional expense or the risk of carrying a pregnancy to term even in dangerous circumstances. We are relieved that this ban will be blocked and that abortion providers will be able to keep offering compassionate, evidence-based medical care in the state of Florida.”

“Floridians have shown time and again that they believe in the right to privacy,” said Daniel Tilley, legal director of the ACLU of Florida. “The court’s decision reflects the will of the people and upholds Floridians’ constitutional right to privacy. Despite the efforts by Gov. Ron DeSantis and extremist Florida politicians, we have the power to fight back against these attempts to force their cruel agenda on Floridians. We will continue to do so to ensure no one is forced to carry a pregnancy against their will.”

“We are very pleased with the court’s decision to block Florida’s 15-week ban on abortions, which would have devasting consequences for individuals across the state,” said Jenner & Block Partner April Otterberg. “Today, the court system stepped up to protect the rights that Floridians are guaranteed under their Constitution, and the decision, once it is entered in a written order, will clear the way for providers across Florida to continue to give the care that women choose for themselves, knowing what is best for their own bodies and their own unique futures. We look forward to continuing our work to advocate for all those who have a right to these essential health care services.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Florida, Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the law firm Jenner & Block filed this lawsuit on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida; Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida; Gainesville Woman Care; Indian Rocks Woman’s Center; St. Petersburg Woman’s Health Center; Tampa Woman’s Health Center; and A Woman’s Choice of Jacksonville.

An overview of the case and the complaint can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/cases/planned-parenthood-southwest-and-central-florida-et-al-v-state-florida-et-al

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