CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A leaked draft from a Supreme Court opinion that could essentially overturn Roe v. Wade has many wondering what will happen as far as abortion rights are concerned.
News4JAX is looking into how that could change abortion rights in Florida and Georgia.
If the draft from the Supreme Court holds, it essentially sends the issue of abortion rights back to the states -- like it was before 1973. That means in Florida the state legislature would oversee that -- and Florida has a Republican-dominated legislature that just passed a 15-week ban on abortion. In Georgia there is a fetal heartbeat law that has been essentially halted by a federal court -- the Republican-dominated legislature there could also act.
Since Roe v. Wade, there have been more than 43,000 cases in which the ruling has come up. More than 20,000 cases have cited the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling, meaning we could expect havoc in the judicial system and expect state legislatures to start acting quickly on abortion.
News4JAX spoke with Chris Hand, a government law attorney, on Tuesday. Hand also hosts the “Hand on Government” segment on This Week In Jacksonville on Channel 4 on Sunday mornings. He said to expect blue states to work on protecting abortion rights and red states to look at putting limits on abortion.
“We’ve already seen evidence of that,” Hand said. “During this past legislative session, the Florida legislature took action in anticipation of Roe v. Wade could be overturned. Texas passed a law in 2021... On Tuesday, the governor of California said that he and others were going to pass an amendment to the California constitution that would protect reproductive freedoms in that state.”
There are also other legal consequences to consider.
Shannon Schott, a local lawyer who has studied Roe v. Wade, said this will have a significant impact on rights to privacy because it could call women’s medical records into question.
“If the opinion of the court is, ‘we were wrong’ and there is no rights to privacy -- then there are so many other areas of law... criminal law,” Schott said. “What happens in your home... between spouses... I can’t even wrap my head around it.”
In Florida, there’s the state’s own right to privacy in Article 1 of the state constitution. Another issue in Florida could be Congress. While state legislatures could either push to protect abortion rights or ban them -- federally, Congress could start looking at things like the Women’s Health Protection Act.
One thing that Hand pointed out is the effect this will have on midterm elections.
For months now the core issues voters have weighed in on surround things like the economy, inflation, and COVID-19. He said to expect abortion rights to very quickly become a central theme in political campaigns.