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Florida Supreme Court to hear challenge to 15-week abortion ban


(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — The Florida state Supreme Court is set to hear arguments Friday in a legal challenge seeking to throw out the state’s 15-week abortion ban, claiming it violates the state’s constitution.

The hearing is part of an ongoing lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights and other abortion providers against the state of Florida.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.

In July 2022, a lower state court ruled that the ban violated the state’s constitution and it was temporarily suspended. The law went into effect again later that same day when the state appealed the judge’s decision. The state Supreme Court took up the case in January upon request from the plaintiffs.

A lower court judge had ruled that the Florida state constitution grants explicit protections for the right to privacy that do not exist in the U.S. Constitution, and that the Florida Supreme Court has established that this grants protections for a woman’s right to get an abortion.

Florida’s 15-week ban has been in effect since July 2022. The ban grants exceptions for abortions if the pregnancy poses a risk to the mother’s life and if the fetus has a fatal anomaly, but not for rape or incest.

After the lawsuit was filed challenging the ban, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a six-week abortion ban, seeking to further restrict the procedure. If the court upholds the abortion ban, a six-week trigger ban will go into effect in Florida, prohibiting abortion care before most women know they are pregnant.

Florida shares a border with several states that have ceased nearly all abortion services.

Data collected by WeCount — a national research project focusing on abortion and contraception led by the Society of Family Planning — and the Guttmacher Institute estimates that there was an uptick in the number of abortions provided in Florida since Roe v. Wade was overturned last year. This suggests that access to abortion for women across the South would be further restricted if Florida were to uphold its bans.

“The attempt by Gov. DeSantis and his allies to overturn established law, in defiance of the Florida Constitution, the will of voters, and the rule of law, is deeply misguided and dangerous,” plaintiffs said in a joint statement Thursday.

“We hope the Florida Supreme Court will recognize that politicians’ thinly veiled attempt to uproot the rule of law would needlessly put people’s health and lives at risk and decide to preserve the long-established right to abortion Floridians have relied on for decades,” plaintiffs said.

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