Florida health care providers filed a lawsuit on June 1, 2022 bringing a state constitutional challenge to House Bill (HB) 5, a ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy that threatens to put doctors in jail for providing essential care beyond that point. Shortly after a state trial court officially issued an order blocking the state’s 15-week abortion ban on July 5, on the ground it likely violates Florida’s state constitution and will cause irreparable harm, the state appealed the ruling, triggering an automatic stay of that injunction under Florida state law. The law, which has been in effect since July 1, has already had devastating consequences on the health and futures of Floridians by forcing them to continue carrying pregnancies against their will.

Florida’s state constitution has an express right of privacy that, under decades of Florida Supreme Court precedents, provides broad protection for privacy rights, including the right of have an abortion, independent of federal law. Accordingly, even with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that eliminated the federal constitutional right to abortion, House Bill 5 (HB 5) is blatantly unconstitutional under Florida’s state constitution. This law also defies the clear will of the people in Florida. Two-thirds of Floridians already support the right to abortion, and voters have consistently cast their ballot to ensure that the state constitution provides independent protection for the right to abortion. In 1980, Florida voters amended the state constitution to provide broad protections for individual privacy rights — including abortion. And in 2012, voters overwhelmingly rejected Amendment 6, which would have taken those protections away.

Floridians already face burdensome restrictions to getting an abortion — such as a ban on insurance plans on the state exchange covering abortion; a parental consent requirement that makes it harder for young people to get abortions; and a law that requires people to make an additional, unnecessary trip to an abortion provider before receiving care, which took effect in April 2022. There are also many other barriers to access for people who need abortion care, including: delays in finding out they’re pregnant; difficulty affording essential health care; and a lack of nearby providers.

HB 5 is designed to force Floridians to remain pregnant against their will, violating their dignity and bodily autonomy, and endangering their families, their health, and even their lives. The impacts of pushing reproductive health care out of reach in the middle of a maternal mortality crisis will fall hardest on Black women, who are nearly three times more likely than white women to die during childbirth, or shortly after.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Florida, Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the law firm Jenner & Block filed this lawsuit on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida; Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida; Gainesville Woman Care; Indian Rocks Woman’s Center; St. Petersburg Woman’s Health Center; Tampa Woman’s Health Center; and A Woman’s Choice of Jacksonville.

 

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