Jun 1, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Abortion providers sue Florida officials to challenge 15-week ban

Picture of a sign that says "bans off our bodies"
Abortion rights supporters hold placards in Miami on May 3. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Abortion providers have filed a lawsuit seeking to void the recently enacted 15-week abortion ban in Florida, which is set to take effect in July.

State of play: Providers argue the ban violates the state's constitutional protections, intrudes on the privacy rights of Florida women, and denies women autonomy over their bodies.

  • They're asking a state court to temporarily block the law while its constitutionality is considered.

The providers in the case are represented by Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The big picture: Abortion rights are protected under the state's constitution due to a Florida Supreme Court precedent that "recognized that the right of privacy in the state constitution protects abortion," according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

  • In states where abortion rights are protected under court precedent and where there is an anti-abortion majority of lawmakers and politicians, lawsuits could be brought to challenge these decisions.

Details: Florida's law includes no exceptions for rape or incest and only allows abortions past 15 weeks in cases of a medical emergency or if there's a "fatal fetal abnormality."

  • Abortions must also be reported to the state, along with information on why the procedure was provided.

What they're saying: "Patients may need abortion care after 15 weeks for many reasons, whether it be related to a health condition that develops as the pregnancy progresses, or delays to care directly related to inequitable access to medical care, which is especially pronounced for women and girls living in poverty," said Shelly Tien, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist and abortion care provider at Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida.

  • "Of further concern, restricting abortion access will result in forced pregnancies, forced childbirth, and for some, forced parenting," Tien said.
  • "Everyone should have the fundamental right to make these deeply personal decisions that profoundly impact the arc of their lives within the privacy of the physician-patient relationship," Tien said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) "is and always has been pro-life. Our office is confident that this law will ultimately withstand all legal challenges," his office wrote in a statement provided to Axios.

What to watch: The Supreme Court is reviewing a challenge to a law in Mississippi that also bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Go deeper: Red states race to enact new abortion restrictions

Editor's note: This story was updated to include comment from the office of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

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