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Roe v. Wade has been overturned. What does that mean for abortion access in Florida?

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Tom James, Pelican Media
About 200 people converged outside the old Lee County Courthouse in downtown Fort Myers to protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on June 24, 2022, overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Abortion rights on a national landscape have changed dramatically following last Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade. But as of right now, the decision has no immediate effect on the legality of abortion in the state of Florida, although a 15-week abortion ban is set to go into effect July 1.

An amendment added to the Florida constitution in 1980 guaranteeing the right to privacy is protecting the legality of abortion in the state, for now.

Dr. Danaya Wright, University of Florida constitutional law professor says the right to privacy in Florida's Constitution is not merely about informational privacy, it's about a person’s health too.

“Clearly the word “privacy” in 1980 included these types of issues. These intimate, decision-making family planning types of issues. And then, the Supreme Court of Florida has later gone on and held that that term “privacy” in the Florida constitution include the right to an abortion.”

But Florida’s constitution provides limited protections for those seeking access to abortions in Florida. The state legislature could still take steps going forward to further restrict abortion access similar to the Texas-style 6-week ban bill that died in committee this year.

Even in the absence of further state restrictions, Annie Filkowski, Policy Director for Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, says abortions provider’s resources are stretched.

“We see some of these maps being circulated about the current state of abortion access, and you look at the states surrounding Florida you can't get an abortion," said Filkowski.

"So, we have made ourselves available, increased access to abortion, that’s through increasing staff, extending hours and days of operation, and just increasing patient navigation and all these things to really meet the needs.”

On Thursday, Leon Circuit Judge John Cooper is set to rule on whether to approve an emergency injunction that would prevent the 15-week abortion ban from taking effect. The crux of that legal challenge seeking the injunction is the right to privacy amendment in Florida’s constitution.

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