Abortion rights supporters, meanwhile, used the Supreme Court’s ruling to highlight their continued fight against strict abortion laws and an upcoming state court hearing on Monday that aims to block Florida’s recently approved ban on abortions after 15 weeks. The law doesn’t grant exceptions for victims of rape, incest or human trafficking.
“We will not sit idly by while our freedoms are stripped away like this — we will not stop fighting for our rights,” said Stephanie Fraim, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.
The opposing views on the Supreme Court’s ruling underscore that the fight over reproductive rights will continue long after the undoing of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, especially in Florida, the third most populous state that has trended more Republican in recent years.
Florida’s 15-week ban on abortions, which was modeled after the Mississippi law upheld Friday by the Supreme Court, is currently being challenged in state court. Lawyers from Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida sued state officials to stop the ban from taking effect on July 1, arguing that it violates a broadly written privacy right in the state Constitution.
Planned Parenthood and the ACLU will argue in front of a Leon County Circuit Court judge on Monday to temporarily halt the rollout of the 15-week ban until a trial has been completed. Fraim pledged on Friday to preserve abortion access in the state with the pending court case.
More than 4,800 people from outside of Florida received abortions in the Sunshine State last year, a number that increased after neighboring Alabama enacted tougher restrictions in 2019.
The ruling also invigorated the anti-abortion group Florida Voice for the Unborn to call lawmakers to hold a special session this year to enact a complete statewide ban on abortion. Group founder and director Andrew Shirvell called on DeSantis to bypass the ongoing legal challenge in state circuit court and hold a legislative session to completely ban abortion instead.
“NOW is the time for Governor DeSantis and the Legislature to act so that a full statutory ban is in place while any litigation in the state courts plays out,” Shirvell wrote in a Friday statement.
Florida Democrats have long warned that a Republican-led push to ban all abortions in Florida was imminent. House Democratic Leader-designate Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa) said in a statement that Friday’s decision gives Republicans a road map to further restrict abortions in Florida.
“Today’s decision ratifies the radical and dangerous legislation jammed through the state government by Republicans and clears the path for a full ban of all abortions in our state, without exceptions for rape or incest,” Driskell said.
House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor) said Friday that the state should focus on defending the pending 15-week ban, which the House approved in February.
“Our attention must now shift to the state courts and the Florida Supreme Court as they evaluate HB 5 and determine its constitutionality here – an additional hurdle present in our state,” Sprowls said.
Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) praised the high court, saying the ruling will help increase adoptions as an alternative to abortion. Simpson was adopted as a child.
“Florida is a state that values life,” Simpson wrote in a statement.
Sprowls and Simpson will lose their leadership roles due to term limits after the November elections, and the two Republicans who will replace them on Friday stopped short of announcing plans for the legislative session next year. Incoming Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) wrote that the Legislature has already approved several other abortion restrictions during her years in the Legislature. She also praised the five justices who supported the majority opinion, which framed Roe as a roadblock for states to make decisions that are protected by the Constitution.
“These defenders of the Constitution have given the states rights to do what is right,” Passidomo said. “Here in Florida, we will continue to defend life.”
House Speaker-designate Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) said the decision returns the abortion debate back to the state, where he said it belongs.
“The Florida Legislature has made significant strides towards protecting the unborn and will continue to pursue legislation that honors the sanctity of life,” Renner said.