Sep 8, 2023 - Health

Florida Supreme Court hears arguments in major abortion case

An abortion rights activist holds a sign at a protest on July 13, 2022, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Photo: John Parra/Getty Images for MoveOn

Florida's Supreme Court on Friday heard arguments in a case on the constitutionality of a law limiting abortion access in the state.

Driving the news: The case was brought on by abortion providers who filed a lawsuit seeking to void a 15-week abortion ban in Florida.

  • The justices declined to immediately block the bill while the lawsuit proceeds, leaving the ban in place for now.

Context: A person's ability to get an abortion in Florida is protected by a state Supreme Court precedent that found that a person's right to privacy allows them to get an abortion, per 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.

The big picture: Unless the court blocks the 15-week ban, a separate six-week abortion ban signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in April will go into effect 30 days after the court issues its decision.

  • The six-week ban is one of the nation's strictest bans on abortions and would limit access before most women know they are pregnant.

Of note: Florida's law does not include 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.

Catch up quick: There have been several lower court rulings on the 15-week ban in Florida.

  • Prior to the 15-week ban taking effect, abortion in Florida was legal up until the 24th week of pregnancy.

Where it stands: The court has not yet made a ruling in the case.

  • Meanwhile, a Florida abortion ballot initiative hit the threshold of signatures needed to trigger a state Supreme Court review of the ballot question's language, Axios' Yacob Reyes reports.
  • The ballot question could be one of the few avenues advocates have of restoring access to the procedure.

Go deeper: A year without Roe in Florida yields tougher restrictions

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