News Brief

US: Florida Supreme Court Upholds 15-Week Abortion Restriction, Paving Way For Near-Total Ban

Kuldeep Negi

Apr 02, 2024, 11:33 AM | Updated 11:33 AM IST

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Meg Kinnard/AP
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Meg Kinnard/AP

The Florida Supreme Court in the United States on Monday (1 April) confirmed the legality of the state's 15-week abortion restriction.

This ruling paves the way for a stricter six-week abortion ban, legislated in 2023, to be implemented a month after the 15-week ban, signed by DeSantis in 2022, was upheld.

The six-week ban is expected to significantly impact the availability of abortion services in Florida and the broader Southern region.

DeSantis, who had a hand in appointing five of the seven justices on the court, witnessed the enactment of the 15-week ban during his tenure in 2022.

The enforcement of this ban continued amidst legal challenges.

The six-week ban, passed in the 2023 legislative session was written so that it would not take effect until a month after the 2022 law was upheld.

Abortion access before 15 weeks, which accounts for the majority of abortions, remains relatively unaffected for now.

However, the six-week ban will drastically alter the landscape, especially affecting women in Florida and the South seeking abortions.

The opposition, including Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, contested the ban, highlighting Florida's distinctive privacy clause that has protected abortion rights for over four decades.

Florida officials countered this by asserting the privacy clause, ratified by voters in 1980, was intended for safeguarding personal data rather than abortion rights.

Following the US Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v Wade in June 2022, numerous Republican-led states have enacted abortion restrictions or outright bans, all of which have faced legal challenges.

However, the Florida Supreme Court also dismissed an effort by the state's Republican attorney general to prevent an initiative from appearing on the November ballot, giving voters the chance to decide whether there should be a right to an abortion.

"We decline to encroach on the prerogative to amend their constitution that the people have reserved to themselves," the court said in one of the rulings.

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Kuldeep is Senior Editor (Newsroom) at Swarajya. He tweets at @kaydnegi.

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