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Florida court allows 6-week abortion ban, but voters will weigh in

Overturning decades of legal precedent, the Florida Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the state constitution’s privacy protections do not apply to abortion, effectively allowing Florida to ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

But in a separate ruling issued at the same time, the justices allowed Florida voters to decide this fall whether to expand abortion access. The court ruled 4 to 3: proposed constitutional amendment This would guarantee the right to abortion “before survival” (usually around 24 weeks) on the November ballot.

The rulings encapsulate how the nation has dealt with abortion on a state-by-state basis on a single day since the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that recognized federal abortion rights.

The conservative-leaning court ruled 6-1 15-week abortion ban Constitution promulgated in 2022. The ruling, which came in response to a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and several abortion providers, will allow a six-week ban enacted last year to take effect on May 1.

“Based on our analysis, which finds that the right to abortion is not expressly provided for in the Privacy Clause, Planned Parenthood cannot overcome the presumption of constitutionality and cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the 15-week ban is unconstitutional,” Judge Jamie R. Grosshans said. (Jamie R. Grosshans) writes In the eyes of most people.

In paving the way for the six-week ban, the court solidified a rapid shift in Florida, once a destination for women seeking abortions in the American South, into a state with similar restrictive policies as surrounding states The place.

But allowing the ballot measure gives supporters of abortion rights a chance to continue their national campaign to preserve access to the process by giving voters a chance to engage directly on the issue. Ballot measures supporting abortion rights have been successful in several states, including Ohio and Michigan.

“This is a historic day in the fight for abortion rights in Florida,” said Lauren Brenzel, director of the Yes on 4 movement, which introduced the ballot measure. “Decisions about abortion will no longer be made by Politicians who are out of touch with reality decide.” Everyday Floridians. “

Abortion rights groups in about 10 states Measures are being attempted to ensure entry; Florida is the largest state among them.

Historically, many women from southern states with more restrictive abortion restrictions traveled to Florida to obtain abortions. They now have to seek abortions farther afield, perhaps in Virginia or Washington, D.C. Few women realize they are pregnant at six weeks, and supporters of abortion rights say a stricter ban would amount to a near-total ban if it comes into effect.

In their ruling allowing the six-week ban to take effect, a majority of the justices argued that past abortion cases had been wrongly ruled based on an overly broad interpretation of the state constitution’s privacy clause — an argument similar to that made by the U.S. Supreme Court. Overthrow Roy Made.

The Privacy Clause in the Florida Constitution states: “Every natural person has the right to be free from interference and intrusion by the government into his or her private life.” The Florida Supreme Court first ruled in 1989 that this provision applied to abortion; in 2012, voters The vote rejected an amendment that would have excluded abortion from constitutional privacy protections.

But on Monday, the majority of the justices said that when voters added the privacy provision to the state constitution in 1980, they did not understand whether it applied to abortion, citing public and legislative debates at the time.

Judge Jorge Labarga, the lone dissenter, noted that the ruling would have far-reaching consequences.

“The ramifications of today’s decision extend far beyond the 15-week ban at issue in this case,” he wrote. “The majority’s decision will result in the state enacting more stringent abortion restrictions, subject to implementation of state statutes.”

The justices narrowly approved the ballot measure, saying it met Florida’s requirements that it be clear and limited to a single subject. Dissenters argued in part that the language in the ballot question was too vague and could lead to years of further litigation.

Monday’s two rulings were no surprise: The seven-member court has moved to the right politically, with four justices appointed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. But while the court faces a Monday deadline to rule on the abortion measure, it does not face a similar timeline for ruling on the abortion ban.

By issuing two rulings on the same day, the court gave abortion opponents a popular decision narrowing privacy protections. But it also allows for a ballot measure to expand abortion access, leaving these groups little time to celebrate.

Immediately following the court’s ruling, opponents and supporters of the ballot measure accused each other of being too extreme, previewing their likely campaign messages.

Republican lawmakers who support abortion bans at 15 and 6 weeks argue the ballot measure would allow abortion later in pregnancy. Abortions after 21 weeks are extremely rare and are usually performed after a serious medical diagnosis.

“This is not government interference in abortion, this is allowing abortion up to the moment of birth,” said Vero Beach state Sen. Erin Grall, the sponsor of the six-week ban.

Ms. Brenzel countered that lawmakers were out of step with most Floridians. Polls show that a majority of Floridians believe abortion should be legal in most cases.

Danielle Tallafuss, Central Florida resident Who has had an abortion She learned her fetus had a life-threatening heart condition after 22 weeks, before the country restricted the procedure, and said women should be able to make the decision to terminate a pregnancy with their doctor.

“My heart has been in turmoil since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Florida passed its 15-week abortion ban,” she said. “Today, I am hopeful that residents will be able to vote in November. Pro-life.” Go back to the women of this state. “

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