New York, NY- Today, the Florida Supreme Court found an informed consent abortion law constitutional, but adopted an interpretation of the statute that allows abortion providers to provide their patients with information specific to their circumstances rather than identical standardized information.
“The Supreme Court has recognized what we have argued all along: abortion providers should not be singled out and subjected to different requirements than any other medical provider,” said Marshall Osofsky, of Moyle, Flanigan, Katz, Raymond, White, and Krasker, P.A., lead counsel in the case. “Any doctor must be able to use his or her own medical judgment to tailor the information provided to a patient in order to give the patient the best care.”
For years, Florida state argued that abortion providers should be subject to a different standard than other medical providers. Under the state’s original interpretation of the so-called “Women’s Right to Know Act,” abortion providers would have been forced to provide the same generalized information to every patient. A rape or incest survivor, for example, would be provided the same information as a woman with a heart condition. Also, it was unclear whether abortion providers would be required to provide information about non-medical risks under the new law.
However, during the state Supreme Court oral argument, the state conceded that abortion providers should only be required to inform patients of the medical risks of having an abortion and carrying a pregnancy to term. Also the state conceded that abortion providers must be able to take into account the individual patient’s circumstances.
In light of those concessions, the court held that “it would be illogical to require physicians who perform this treatment to provide the identical standardized information to every patient, even when that information would be completely irrelevant to the patient’s individual circumstances. Indeed, such a practice would defeat the very purpose of informed consent by overwhelming and possibly confusing the patient with immaterial information.”
“It’s unfortunate that it was not until the eleventh hour that the state reversed its position on the government infringing upon the doctor-patient relationship,” said Bebe Anderson, staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights and co-counsel with Osofsky. “We are gratified that the court limited the reach of this law.”
Abortion-specific, biased counseling laws are part of an ongoing campaign by the anti-choice movement to mislead women when they are making a personal decision about their pregnancies. Rather than inform women, these laws misinform them, often in an insulting and harmful way.
The plaintiffs in State v. Presidential Women’s Center include Presidential Women’s Center and Dr. Michael Benjamin. They are represented by Marshall Osofsky of Moyle, Flanigan, Katz, Raymond and Sheehan, P.A. and Bebe Anderson of the Center for Reproductive Rights.