life after roe

Florida Supreme Court Paves the Way for Six-Week Abortion Ban

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The Florida supreme court, one of the most conservative in the nation, ruled on Monday that the state’s constitution does not protect abortion rights, overturning decades of precedent and paving the way for a six-week ban to take effect. After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Florida was one of the only states in the Southeast where patients could access care after six weeks, and it saw a dramatic increase in abortion seekers from out of state. The measure, which outlaws abortion before most people know they are pregnant, is in effect a total ban and will have a devastating effect on patients in the region.

In June 2022, abortion providers sued the state over its current 15-week abortion ban, maintaining that the right to privacy, which voters codified into the Florida constitution in 1980, applied to the right to terminate a pregnancy. In 1989, the court ruled unanimously that this interpretation was correct. Voters also rejected a constitutional amendment that would have taken away abortion protections in 2012. But at a hearing last summer, the court — with five out seven justices who were appointed by Republican governor Ron DeSantis, several of whom have a record of deep ties to the anti-abortion movement — seemed skeptical that the constitution protected abortion rights.

The six-week abortion ban — which was signed into law in April 2023 and remained blocked while the legal challenge to the 15-week ban played out — will go into effect within 30 days. The law contains exceptions for rape and incest, with survivors allowed to obtain abortion care until 15 weeks of pregnancy only if they are able to provide evidence of their assault. The ban also grants an exception for certain medical conditions, as long as two physicians confirm that terminating the pregnancy is needed to save the patient’s life. (After Dobbs, there has been plenty of evidence that these types of exceptions are rarely granted.) Even if patients are able to determine they are pregnant before six weeks of gestation, Florida’s 24-hour waiting period — which requires patients to visit the clinic in person twice, the first time for a consultation and the second to actually obtain the abortion — will make it nearly impossible for most people to access care.

Separately, the court ruled that a constitutional amendment that would explicitly codify abortion rights can appear on the ballot in the upcoming November election. The ballot measure would allow abortions in the state up until so-called viability, or around 24 weeks of pregnancy, and will need more than 60 percent of support among voters in order to pass. If approved, access to abortion care would be restored in the Sunshine State. But in the meantime, thousands of patients will likely be forced to self-manage their abortions, seek care in places that are already overwhelmed with out-of-state-patients, or continue their pregnancies against their will.

The Cut offers an online tool that allows you to search by Zip Code for professional providers, including clinics, hospitals, and independent OB/GYNs, as well as abortion funds, transportation options, and information for remote resources like receiving the abortion pill by mail. For legal guidance, contact Repro Legal Helpline at 844-868-2812 or The Abortion Defense Network.

Florida Supreme Court Allows Six-Week Abortion Ban