Citing Florida’s constitution—which contains an explicit privacy clause that protects individuals’ right to privacy, including abortion—the Center for Reproductive Rights and its partners are challenging the state’s recently enacted abortion ban. The lawsuit, representing abortion providers, asks the state court to block the ban before it takes effect on July 1.
The Florida law, HB 5, bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Doctors who provide abortion care in violation of the law are subject to felony criminal penalties and disciplinary action, including loss of licensure.
“The Florida Supreme Court has long held that their state constitution protects the right to end a pregnancy. That means even if Roe falls, abortion should remain protected in Florida, and this ban should be blocked,” said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center.
Ban Would be Devastating to People Seeking Abortion Care
If Florida’s ban takes effect, it would have devastating effects on abortion access in the state and surrounding region. Floridians already face burdensome restrictions to getting an abortion —including 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 requiring people to make an additional, unnecessary trip to an abortion provider before receiving care.
The impacts of pushing reproductive health care further out of reach will fall hardest on Black women, who are nearly three times more likely than white women to die during childbirth or shortly after.
State Constitutions Can Be Crucial to Protecting Abortion Rights
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling soon in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case in which the state of Mississippi has asked the Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and rule there is no right to abortion in the U.S. constitution.
As the Court considers whether to take away the right to abortion, state constitutions and courts matter more than ever in protecting abortion rights. States have unique constitutions and court systems that allow them to guarantee abortion rights and reproductive autonomy independently from and more strongly than the U.S. Constitution.
The Florida Supreme Court has long recognized that the right of privacy in the state constitution protects abortion. The Court has treated abortion like other privacy rights, including medical decision-making and non-disclosure of personal information, which means that laws implicating the privacy right receive the most searching judicial scrutiny. Many of these protections resulted from decades of litigation in Florida state court by the Center and partner organizations on behalf of the state’s abortion providers.
The challenge to Florida’s abortion ban was filed June 1 by the Center, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Florida, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the law firm Jenner & Block 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.