Florida Supreme Court Upholds State’s 15-Week Abortion Ban But Gives Voters Final Say

Grace Miller 11, left, and Leo Miller 5, right, hold signs during a Pro-Life rally at Federal Plaza Friday, June 24, 2022, in Chicago, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

The Florida Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy but also gave voters a chance on a ballot in November to remove restrictions and restore abortion rights in most cases.

The court that was reshaped by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis ruled 6-1 to uphold the state’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, meaning a ban on six weeks could soon take effect. But under a separate ruling, the court allowed a ballot measure on abortions rights to go to voters.

Most abortions are obtained before the 15-week mark, so the current ban does not affect most people seeking abortion. But a six-week ban would likely have a major impact on women seeking abortions in Florida and throughout the South.

DeSantis, who signed the 15-week ban in 2022, appointed five of the court’s seven justices.

The lawsuit challenging the ban was brought by Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and others. They argued the Florida Constitution’s unique privacy clause for more than 40 years has explicitly protected a right to abortion in the state and should remain in force.

Lawyers for the state, however, said when the privacy clause was adopted by voter referendum in 1980, few people understood it would cover abortion. They told the justices the clause was mainly meant to cover “informational privacy” such as personal records and not abortion.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, most Republican-controlled states have adopted bans or restrictions on abortions. Every ban has faced a court challenge.

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