Judge hears arguments on Florida’s abortion law

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Just days after Roe v. Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, another legal fight over abortion rights is taking shape, this time in a Florida courtroom.

Planned Parenthood, along with several other women’s health agencies, appeared in court today facing off against the state over Florida’s new 15-week ban on abortions scheduled to take effect Friday.


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Over the weekend, protests across the country argued for women’s bodily autonomy and privacy following the decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

University of North Florida political science professor Nick Seabrook spoke on the argument.

“Generally, there hasn’t been a lot of state litigation here at the state level based on the state constitution because you had Roe v. Wade in effect at the federal level.”

On Monday, women’s health agencies from across Florida took a claim to state court arguing that House Bill 5, the Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Law, violates Florida’s constitution.

“So, the Florida constitution amendment doesn’t specifically reference abortion but it does protect an individual right to privacy and it protects it very extensively,” Seabrook said.

In 1980, Florida voters voted yes on the amendment that protected the right to privacy. Less than a decade later, that change to the state constitution was applied to abortions. Seabrook added, “The state Supreme Court determined that it did in fact apply to abortion.”

Read: Security remains high outside U.S. Supreme Court following Roe v. Wade reversal

Meaning that precedent has been set for all state courts, where the hearing is today.

“That precedent is binding to all lower court judges here in Florida. The only court that can reverse or modify that precedent is the state Supreme Court.”

Court documents show the state asked the courts to reject the women’s health agencies’ request, saying doctors would not be irreparably harmed, as those organizations argued. If the injunction is approved, the 15-week law will not be considered legal. Only the state Supreme Court could change that, something that Seabrook says may not be wise.

“It would certainly send a bad signal I think if 33 years after a decision interpreting the state constitution is made meaning one thing, a provision that the people themselves voted for perhaps with the understanding that they were doing, you get a new set of justices come in and effectively overturn the will of the people.”

An anti-abortion volunteer we spoke to, Mary Houston, says the right to have an abortion has hurt women who’ve had them.

Read: HUD Secretary visits Jacksonville amid city’s housing crisis

“Learn the truth about abortion. Abortion only hurts them. Abortion only hurts them. And they’re suffering in silence.”

A plaintiff in the case based here in Jacksonville told us Friday that the precedent for a woman’s choice is if a woman has a right to privacy the government shouldn’t have a say in the decision.

“It’s cruel, it’s unprecedented, it’s unimaginable, and it shouldn’t be political.”

This case could have a major impact on the 15-week abortion ban, which mirrors the law that led to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

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