Roe v. Wade Overturned: Are Abortions Still Legal in Florida?

In light of the recent overturn allowing states to ban abortions, many are wondering what is to come of Florida's abortion laws

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The Supreme Court diverted from a 50-year history of constitutionally protecting abortion rights for women in their decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Friday's decision marks a momentous change in national abortion legislation. Now, states will be able to independently decide whether or not the procedure will be allowed.

It is expected that roughly half of states will ban abortions in the wake of this change, and will work to do so quickly. In 23 states, trigger laws will allow these bans to go into effect immediately.

In recent years, anti-abortion Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has passed several laws restricting abortions in the state, leaving many to assume that the ban will inevitably take hold of the state.

This information has locals wondering: how will Florida be affected by this decision in the near future?

What are Florida's current abortion laws?

Currently, Florida laws allow women to receive an abortion up to 24 weeks, with exceptions for life endangerment, rape or incest.

In comparison to other states in the southeast, this second trimester law is considered lenient— but it won't be in place for much longer.

On July 1, Florida will join many other states in enacting a first trimester abortion restriction with House Bill 5, thus limiting women to receiving the procedure in the first 15 weeks.

Florida Republicans argue that this legislation is bi-partisan in the sense that it does not completely ban abortions, but allows them to continue with stricter limitations.

"We are here today to defend those who can't defend themselves," DeSantis said at the bill signing in April. "This will represent the most significant protections for life that have been enacted in this state in a generation."

Democrats, however, see the law as an attack against women and a way of taking away their right to safe abortions.

"We are at a horrible moment, historic in a very backwards kind of history way that we are experiencing in our country," Democratic State Sen. Annette Taddeo said. "I never ever thought I would see the day that this would happen that we would actually be taking away women's rights, from millions of women across the country."

The South founder Angela Peoples and FIU professor Ediberto Roman talks about the overturning of Roe v. Wade

Will Florida ban abortions after the overturn on Roe v. Wade?

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision, it is partly unknown what will become of Florida's abortion laws.

In a statement on the decision, Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls expressed the state's support for the overturn and commitment to pro-life legislation.

"The Florida House agrees with the Supreme Court that abortion is an issue that should be left to states," it reads. "I have been and will always continue to be unmovable on the need to protect life."

Sprowls did not, however, speak specifically on whether the state will move to outlaw abortions entirely. Instead, he expressed their intent to solidify the constitutionality of HB 5 in light of the overturn, despite previous controversy.

"In Florida, 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," he said in the statement.

In a similar sentiment, DeSantis did not specify his intentions, tweeting, "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."

Ediberto Roman, a professor at the Florida International University College of Law, said the Supreme Court went in a new direction based on the fact that no where in the U.S. Constitution is there anything making abortion a right.

"Basically respecting older decisions of the Supreme Court didn’t matter," he said. "What the court did they took over the traditional stance of what is known as textualism, basically if its not stated in the Constitution itself it’s not a recognized right."

Roman said the Supreme Court ruling makes it possible for a Florida law to be introduced in Tallahassee that would ban abortion altogether.

“Now it opens the door for other states including Florida to pass a much more restrictive law,” Roman said.

The Florida Agency for Health Care indicates that in 2021, 79,000 women received abortions that were conducted at 55 licensed Florida facilities and 4,800 of the women came from other states.  

How have Florida lawmakers reacted?

In response to the overturn, Florida lawmakers have voiced their opinions in support of or against the decision.

"Today the Supreme Court correctly returned the power to regulate abortion to the states," Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said via Twitter. "I will soon introduce a proposal to support mothers and their babies so that every child has a real opportunity to pursue the promise of America."

On the flip side, Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist expressed his opposition to the overturn and the effects it could have on Florida law.

“My heart is heavy for women across our country and in the Sunshine State who, with this decision, are losing their federal protections for the freedom to make their own reproductive decisions," Crist said in a statement.

How have Floridians reacted to the possible changes?

In the hours since the decision was released, Floridians have been quick to express their opinions on the overturn.

In a statement, Archdiocese of Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski expressed support for the overturn.

"Today's decision of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the fateful Roe v. Wade is certainly welcomed by all those who recognize that human life begins at conception," he said. "As such the unborn child should be welcome in life and protected by law."

On the flip side, those against the decision were quick to organize rallies in which they can let their voices be heard.

In Planned Parenthood facilities across Florida, events are being held in reaction to the decision.

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