Analyst: Florida’s 15-week abortion ban ‘inconsistent with Roe v. Wade’

Supreme Court could soon decide future of Florida’s new law

News4JAX Political Analyst and head of the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute Rick Mullaney talks about the impact of the new Florida abortion law.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida joined a growing conservative push to restrict abortion when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a 15-week abortion ban into law Thursday.

The law marks a significant blow to abortion access in the South, where Florida has provided wider access to the procedure than its regional neighbors.

But the measure faces a number of legal challenges.

RELATED: Abortion ban after 15 weeks signed into law in Florida

The Supreme Court could soon decide the future of Florida’s new law when it rules to determine the fate of Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban — the ban on which Florida’s new law was based.

“The U.S. Supreme Court last fall, they heard oral arguments on the Mississippi case on whether or not that 15-week ban is constitutional,” said Rick Mullaney, News4Jax political analyst. “And remember this, under Roe versus Wade, in the subsequent case of Planned Parenthood versus Casey, a viability test was a standard of 24 weeks. Meaning that up to 24 weeks a woman has a federal constitutional right to an abortion and after 24 weeks states can ban it.

“Clearly, the 15-week limitation in Mississippi and the 15-week in Florida, which was just passed, are inconsistent with Roe V Wade,” said Mullaney. “If the U.S. Supreme Court declares the Mississippi law unconstitutional, the Florida law will be unconstitutional. If, however, the U.S. Supreme Court declares that Roe versus Wade is overturned, which -- by the way -- will be a political earthquake, it will return it to the states. However, the court could also modify Roe and come up with another test, such as workability, standard or undue burden.”

As Mullaney mentioned state courts may also pose a legal hurdle to the 15-week ban. A 1980 state constitutional amendment, added by Florida voters, holds that “every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life.”

“The question will then become, is there a Florida constitutional right for a woman to have an abortion and clearly abortion rights advocates, those who are pro-choice, will point to this explicit language of a right to privacy in the Florida constitution and they will declare that to be,” Mullaney said. “They will claim that as a separate basis. Regardless you can expect this to be litigated.”

There will legal challenges from other groups as well. Among them Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU’s legal representatives maintain this new law “is not about life.” They say it’s “about control.” And they say “politicians have no business getting between a patient and their doctor.” And they plan to challenge Florida’s new 15-week abortion ban in court.

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