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Roe v. Wade overturned: What it means for abortion rights in Florida

Ron DeSantis
Posted at 1:00 PM, Jun 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-24 13:05:26-04

TAMPA, Fla.  — The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had provided a constitutional right to abortion. The ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states. In anticipation of the decision, several states led by Democrats have taken steps to protect abortion access.

The decision also sets up the potential for legal fights between the states over whether providers and those who help women obtain abortions can be sued or prosecuted. Here is an overview of abortion legislation and the expected impact of the court's decision in every state.

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In Florida, Republicans control both chambers of the Legislature and this year passed a ban on abortions after 15 weeks, which was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis.

The law, which goes into effect on July 1, bans abortions except to save the mother's life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow for exemptions in cases where pregnancies were caused by rape or incest. Gov. Ron DeSantis called the legislation "the most significant protections for life that have been enacted in this state in a generation."

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DeSantis issued the following statement on the Supreme Court decision.

"The prayers of millions have been answered. For nearly fifty years, the U.S. Supreme Court has prohibited virtually any meaningful pro-life protection, but this was not grounded in the text, history or structure of the Constitution. By properly interpreting the Constitution, the Dobbs majority has restored the people's role in our republic and a sense of hope that every life counts.

Florida will continue to defend its recently-enacted pro-life reforms against state court challenges, will work to expand pro-life protections, and will stand for life by promoting adoption, foster care and child welfare."

Abortion was legal in Florida until the 24th week of pregnancy, though lawmakers have been tightening access in recent years with bills requiring a one-day waiting period and requiring parents of a pregnant minor to be notified before an abortion can be provided.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade places the state's 15-week ban on firm legal ground, at least under federal law. However, the legislation is already being challenged in state court on arguments that it violates a guarantee of the right to privacy under the state constitution.

In light of the Supreme Court's decision, the state constitutional challenge of the 15-week ban will likely still be pending. Though only about 2% of Florida's abortions take place after the 15th week, abortion rights advocates have expressed concern over declining access to the procedure not only for Floridians but for residents from nearby Southern states where restrictions have historically been stricter than in Florida.

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A federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report said about 2% of the nearly 72,000 abortions reported in Florida in 2019 were performed after 15 weeks. That same year, 2,256 out-of-state residents got abortions in Florida, with the majority — about 1,200 — coming from Georgia and more than 300 from Alabama, according to the CDC. The origin of the remaining patients was not clear.

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Associated Press statehouse reporters from across the U.S. contributed.