Florida Supreme Court upholds 6-week abortion ban and allows abortion referendum for November ballot News
Florida Supreme Court upholds 6-week abortion ban and allows abortion referendum for November ballot

The Florida Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the state constitution does not protect the right to abortion. The ruling in Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida vs. State of Florida allows the current 15-week abortion ban to be upheld and triggers the Heartbeat Protection Act to take effect. The Act, signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, outlaws abortion after 6 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest, human trafficking, fatal fetal abnormalities, and maternal health.

Planned Parenthood argued that the 15-week ban violated the Privacy Clause, which was added to the Florida Constitution in 1980. Dr. Shelly Tien, a Florida maternal-fetal medicine specialist, spoke for Planned Parenthood and stated, “Patients may need abortion care after 15 weeks for many reasons, [and] delays to care directly related to inequitable access to medical care, which is especially pronounced for women and girls living in poverty.”

The Court responded with its opinion that abortion wasn’t directly related to privacy and, therefore, was not protected. It was stated that:

“The decision to have an abortion may have been made in solitude, but the procedure itself included medical intervention and required both the presence and intrusion of others. We also stress that this ‘right to be let alone’ was modified by a limiting principle: the right did not permit an individual to inflict harm on herself or others.”

Simultaneously, the court allowed a proposed amendment to appear on the Florida November ballot. This amendment aims to establish abortion protections in the state constitution. The Floridians Protecting Freedom led the initiative for the proposed constitutional change, and come November, voters will inevitably decide whether to keep the six-week ban in effect. The change would not, however, alter the requirement for a minor’s parent or guardian to be notified before an abortion.

A total of 14 states have implemented near-total abortion bans since the landmark decision Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturning Roe v. Wade in 2022. In addition, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee have enacted bans on abortion after approximately six weeks of pregnancy. Amidst the national debate on abortion rights, the US Supreme Court hears argument this week concerning the authorization and regulation of the abortion pill mifepristone. Since the 2022 decision, access to abortion in America is an uneven landscape, with significant restrictions in parts of the south and midwest, while coastal states maintain stronger access.