I worked at the Florida Supreme Court. What you just did is indefensible.

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By journalsofus.com


On April 1, the Florida Supreme Court, in a 6-1 ruling, overturned decades of decisions dating back to 1989 that recognized a woman’s right to choose (i.e., abort) up to the point of viability.

Anchored in Florida’s own constitutional right to privacy, this fundamental individual right to abortion had been repeatedly affirmed by the state Supreme Court, which systematically struck down conflicting laws passed by the Legislature.

As first explained in 1989:

Florida’s privacy provision is clearly implicated in a woman’s decision whether or not to continue her pregnancy. We can conceive of few more personal or private decisions in relation to one’s own body throughout life.

Tellingly, the justices at the time acknowledged that their decision was based not only on U.S. Supreme Court precedent but also on Florida’s own privacy amendment.

I served on the Florida Supreme Court beginning in 1998 and retired, per our mandatory retirement requirement, a little more than two decades later. Whether the Florida Constitution provided a right to privacy covering abortion was never questioned, even by those who would have been considered the most conservative judges: almost all white men back in 1989!

And surprisingly, one of the conservative justices of the time declared: “If the Supreme Court of the United States subsequently retired from its Roe v. Wade, this would not diminish the abortion rights now provided by the privacy amendment of the Florida Constitution.” Wow!

In 2017, I wrote an opinion declaring an additional 24-hour waiting period after a woman decided to terminate her pregnancy to be unconstitutional. Noting that other medical procedures had no such requirements, the majority opinion noted, “Women can take as much time as they need to make this deeply personal decision,” adding that the additional 24 hours stipulated that the patient must undergo a second medical test. unnecessary. trip, incurring additional costs and delays. The court applied what is known in constitutional law as a “strict scrutiny” test of fundamental rights.

Interestingly, Justice Charles Canady, who is still on the Florida Supreme Court and who participated in the evisceration of Florida’s privacy amendment last week, did not No question the central point that abortion is included in the individual right to privacy. He dissented, not for substantive reasons but for technical reasons.

So what can explain this 180-degree turn by the current Florida Supreme Court? If I said “politics,” that answer would be insufficient, too simplistic. Unfortunately, in this court precedent is precedent until it isn’t. Perhaps each of the six justices is individually, morally or religiously opposed to abortion.

However, at the same time, and at the same time, by a 4-3 majority, the justices (three of whom participated in overturning the precedent) voted to allow the proposed constitutional amendment on abortion to be included in the vote. of November. (The dissidents: the three women members of the Supreme Court). That proposed constitutional amendment:

Amendment to limit government interference with abortion:

No law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the health of the patient, as determined by the patient’s health care provider. This amendment does not change the constitutional authority of the Legislature to require notification to a parent or guardian before a minor has an abortion.

For the proposed amendment to pass and be enshrined in the state constitution, 60 percent of Florida voters must vote in favor.

By approving the amendment that will be voted on at the same time as upholding Florida’s abortion bans, the court angered those who support a woman’s right to choose as well as those who oppose abortion. These latter groups will most likely embrace the notion that fetuses are human beings and have rights that deserve to be protected. In fact, Supreme Court Chief Justice Carlos Muñiz, during oral argument on the abortion amendment case, asked the state attorney general precisely about that issue, asking whether the constitutional language that defends the rights of all natural persons is extends to the fetus at any stage of pregnancy.

In fact, and most concerning, it was the three recently appointed governors, Ron DeSantis, all women, who expressed their views that voters should not be allowed to vote on the amendment because it could affect the rights of the unborn child. Justice Jamie Grosshans, joined by Justice Meredith Sasso, said the amendment was flawed because it did not disclose the potential effect on the rights of the fetus. Judge Renatha Francis was even more direct in writing her dissent:

The exercise of a “right” to abortion literally results in a devastating violation of another person’s right: the right to live. And our Florida Constitution recognizes that “life” is a “basic right” for “[a]all natural persons.” We must recognize the right to life of the unborn and the moral duty of the State to protect that life.

In other words, the three dissenting justices would recognize that fetuses are included in the category of “natural person” under the Florida Constitution.

What should be the most important thing days after the grieving decisions? Grave concern for women in our state who will be in limbo because, following the court’s ruling, a six-week abortion ban will be allowed to go into effect—before many women even know they are pregnant. We know that these restrictions will disproportionately affect low-income women and those living in rural communities.

But, interestingly, there is a provision in the six-week abortion ban statute that allows for an abortion before viability in cases of medical necessity: if two doctors certify that the pregnant patient is at risk of death or that “the fetus has a mortal fetus.” anomaly.”

The challenge will be finding doctors willing to risk their professional reputations in a state hell-bent on cruelly preventing access to necessary medical care when it comes to abortion.

However, this is the time when people and organizations dedicated to women’s health, as well as like-minded politicians, will be crucial in coordinating efforts to ensure that abortions, when necessary, are performed safely and without delays. Now is the time to celebrate and support organizations, like Planned Parenthood and Emergency Medical Assistance, as well as our own. RBG Background, which provides patients with necessary resources and information. Floridians should also take full advantage of the Reproduction Legal Helpline.

We all have a role in this, both women and men. Let’s go out, talk, shout, coordinate our efforts and, most importantly, vote. By working together we can achieve a difference.



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