Florida officials push local governments to defend abortion access

FILE - This May 17, 2019, file photo, shows an examination/procedure room at the Jackson Women's Health Organization in Jackson, Miss. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a potentially ground-breaking abortion case, and the news is energizing activists on both sides of the contentious issue. They're already girding to make abortion access a high-profile issue in next years midterm elections. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File) (Rogelio V. Solis, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The U.S. Supreme Court is mulling the constitutionality of a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks.

Many on both sides of the debate have speculated a ruling could go as far as reversing Roe v. Wade.

A coalition made up of a total of 14 cities and counties across Florida has passed resolutions affirming support of abortion access.

In a virtual news conference Thursday, a group of those elected officials encouraged other municipalities to do the same.

“To defend against the current very real anti-abortion attacks from our state Capitol,” said St. Petersburg City Commissioner Darden Rice.

The resolutions, although primarily symbolic, also have some practical effects.

“They help create a conversation and help us look at our internal policies,” said Hallandale Beach City Commissioner Sabrina Javellana.

The officials argue the resolutions are more important than ever, with the U.S. Supreme Court currently considering Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban.

“We’ve also already heard the rumors that a 15-week ban, much like Mississippi, is what Florida Republicans are going to be leading with,” said state Rep. Anna Eskamani.

Many have even speculated the result of the case will lead to a complete overturning of Roe v. Wade, which would allow states to completely ban abortion.

In that scenario, Florida lawmakers may have a tougher time banning abortion than other state legislatures.

That’s because of the state constitution’s privacy clause.

“It has protected the people of Florida from anti-abortion legislation in the past,” said Eskamani.

Past state Supreme Court rulings have held Florida’s unique privacy protections extend to abortion access.

In 2012, Florida voters voted 55 to 45 to uphold that interpretation.

“They don’t want to interfere between someone and their doctor when it comes to a pregnancy,” said Eskamani.

A ruling on the Mississippi law isn’t expected until this summer, but there’s almost guaranteed to be some push for more abortion restrictions in the state legislative session starting in January.

Already a Texas-style heartbeat bill has been filed for the upcoming session, although there are few indications the legislation has much traction among the GOP majority.