The fall of Roe v. Wade: Five questions about abortion access in Florida
Abortion has been legal nationwide for almost 50 years under Roe v. Wade, but with the Supreme Court's decision Friday to overturn the case, that authority now rests with the states.
In Florida, that means a handful of state laws and constitutional amendments now dictate to what extent the procedure is legal.
To help make sense of this new landscape, the USA TODAY Network - Florida has compiled answers to some questions that may be on your mind.
Is abortion still legal in Florida?
Until July 1, Floridians seeking an abortion can obtain one within 24 weeks of pregnancy. Then, a new law will go into effect banning the procedure after 15 weeks. Unlike some states — including Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas — Florida doesn’t have a so-called trigger law on the books that would ban abortion almost immediately after Roe v. Wade is overturned.
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The Florida Constitution also has a unique right to privacy that the state Supreme Court interpreted more than 30 years ago to extend to abortion. While some abortion rights advocates worry the increasingly conservative panel of justices will overturn that precedent, it remains the law of the land until the court rules otherwise.
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What abortion regulations are currently in place in Florida?
The 15-week ban is set to go into effect July 1. The law allows for exceptions if carrying the pregnancy to term would result in serious injury or death for the mother, or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. There are no exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.
The majority of abortions in Florida occur within that timeframe; in 2021, about 75,000 abortions occurred in the first trimester, or the first 12 to 13 weeks of pregnancy, compared with 4,850 in the second, according to state data.
As of April, Florida also requires that a person seeking abortion wait 24 hours after an initial doctor’s visit before returning to undergo the procedure.
For minors, Florida has laws in place requiring that they notify at least one parent 48 hours before an abortion and obtain consent from a parent or approval from a judge through a legal mechanism known as judicial bypass.
Aren’t some of Florida’s abortion restrictions facing legal challenges?
Florida’s 15-week ban is facing two lawsuits, one from a group of Planned Parenthood affiliates and independent providers, and another from a Palm Beach County synagogue. Both challenges seek to block the ban from going into effect and charge that it violates the state constitution’s privacy amendment.
First lawsuit filed:Florida's new 15-week abortion ban challenged as violation of state privacy rights
The challenge filed by the synagogue, Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor in Boynton Beach, also alleges the 15-week restriction violates religious freedom.
“For Jews, all life is precious and thus the decision to bring new life into the world is not taken lightly or determined by state fiat,” the lawsuit said.
“In Jewish law, abortion is required if necessary to protect the health, mental or physical well-being of the woman, or for many other reasons not permitted under the act (the new law). As such, the act prohibits Jewish women from practicing their faith free of government intrusion and thus violates their privacy rights and religious freedom.”
The 24-hour waiting period law was also the subject of a lawsuit filed by a Gainesville clinic and the group Medical Students for Choice, alleging the requirement to take two trips to a clinic was too burdensome and violated the state’s right to privacy.
But that challenge ended in April, when a judge sided with the state, putting the law into effect.
End of a saga:After 7 year legal battle, Leon County judge signs off on Florida abortion waiting period
Will Florida continue to be a 'haven state' for the South?
Yes, for now, abortion rights supporters predict.
Along the east coast, Florida is the only state south of Virginia expected to maintain access to the procedure, according to a map by the Center for Reproductive Rights. It’s the lone state along the Gulf of Mexico. The remaining four states — Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas — are poised to ban abortion altogether.
Alexandra Mandado, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida, told the Palm Beach Post’s Jane Musgrave last month that clinics “expect to see a surge in July.”
“As mind-boggling as it sounds,” Mandado said, “even with the 15-week restriction, we will be seen as a haven state.”
How do I find an abortion clinic in Florida?
Abortion clinics are regulated by Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration. The name, address and phone number for each clinic can be found using the agency’s online facility locator by picking “Abortion clinic” in the “Facility/Provider Type” field.
There are 55 clinics in Florida spread across the following counties: Alachua, Broward, Collier, Duval, Escambia, Hillsborough, Lee, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole and St. Lucie. A majority of counties do not have an abortion clinic.
Kathryn Varn is statewide enterprise reporter for the Gannett/USA Today Network - Florida. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 238-5315.