Uncertainty and confusion surround abortion laws in the Sunshine State with bans being up in the Florida Supreme Court.
Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed off on a six-week abortion ban, but it has yet to go into effect due to the Florida Supreme Court still mulling a case against the 15-week ban.
“The briefing schedule is complete. No party has requested and the Supreme Court has not ordered oral argument in the case. There is no timetable for the Court to issue its opinion,” a court representative told 8 On Your Side Wednesday.
This means a decision in the Planned Parenthood vs. Florida case could drop at any moment.
The “Heartbeat Protection Act” was signed into law by gov. DeSantis in April. It reduces Florida’s 15-week abortion ban to six weeks and includes exceptions for rape incest and human trafficking up to 15 weeks. Plus fatal fetal conditions beyond that.
Republicans behind it remain optimistic that Florida’s constitution lacks privacy protections for late term abortion access.
“Overturning this state decision will put us back in a direction with our courts here in Florida toward a more balanced, correct view of the Constitution,” Florida House Speaker Paul Renner said.
Florida’s top Democrats are being proactive. Some took a trip to Washington, D.C. Wednesday to strategize with the White House and other state lawmakers about the future of abortion access in the U.S.
“We have an uphill battle, this is not going to be easy. Here’s where we can all lock arms together and really make a difference,” Florida Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book said. “While those across the aisle have willingly sacrificed the principles of separation of church and state – and have chosen to disregard the voices of their constituents –we know there is still hope. There is hope because we have the support of President Biden, Vice President Harris, and this White House administration.”
Meanwhile, abortion advocates say they’re making progress on a grassroots effort to get abortion protections on the ballot in 2024. The petition, launched by Floridians Protecting Freedom, has collected over 100,000 signatures to date with requirement of 1 million signatures looming.
“That’s why we’re seeing this groundswell of movement. We’re not waiting on the Supreme Court decision to do something to help Floridians get access to this care,” Kait Thomson, the government relations director for Planned Parenthood Florida said.
The six-week ban would only take effect if the Florida Supreme Court upholds the 15-week ban. However, if the justices decide the privacy clause does not apply to abortion rights the six-week ban would go into effect 30 days after that ruling.
“The Florida Supreme court moves at its own pace, it doesn’t need to explain that to anybody,” Attorney Richard Harrison said. “I think in the end they’re going to uphold the 15-week ban.”
With no timetable for the court and an uncertain future for the ballot initiative, Floridians, for now, will have to wait and wonder what comes next.