Supreme Court abortion ruling could impact Florida law


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The Supreme Court struck down a Texas abortion regulation that could impact a Florida scheduled to go into effect Friday.
 
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas abortion regulation that could impact a Florida law scheduled to go into effect Friday. The justices voted 5 -3 that requiring hospital admitting privileges for doctors performing an abortion was a thinly veiled attempt to make it harder for women to get an abortion.

Justice Stephen Breyer’s majority opinion held the requirement is medically unnecessary.

“This could be helpful,” said Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. “The justices based their decision on science and fact.”

Planned Parenthood is challenging the constitutionality of HB 1411. Like the Texas law, it includes an admitting-privileges provision. Unlike Texas, though, Florida lawmakers allowed the requirement to be satisfied if the clinic offering abortion services has transferring privileges with hospitals — a significant difference to the Texas requirement, according to its sponsor.

“The Florida law is very different than Texas’,” said Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland. “Transferring privileges allows the file to go to the hospital and the patient can receive immediate care — not go through ER.”

Planned Parenthood’s complaint targets a ban on federal, state and local agencies from doing business with organizations providing abortions, inspection requirements and a change in the definition of trimesters.

The court challenge does not address requiring clinics to have transferring privileges.

“The bill’s language is virtually identical to AHCA’s rules for all other ambulatory surgical centers,” said Ingrid Delgado, spokeswoman for the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops. “We would hope not to expect this to be an undue burden.”

The carefully chosen language on transferring privileges might not be enough to save the bill, because Goodhue said, Breyer’s remarks could mark a subtle change in the debate. He wrote provisions of the law that were purportedly written to protect a women’s health and safety failed to provide “medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access.”

“We believe that sets a precedent. Legislatures cannot restrict access under the guise of protecting women. It is unconstitutional,” said Goodhue.

She said statements Stargel and co-sponsor Rep. Colleen Burton, R-Lakeland, made in committee hearings and during debate call into question the intent of HB 1411.

“The justices said instead of improving health and safety the Texas law posed an obstacle to access,” said Goodhue. “In Florida, we believe the sponsors’ intent was to make it harder to get reproductive health services. So, Planned Parenthood will do all it can to protect access to health care.”

Planned Parenthood is seeking an injunction to prevent HB 1411 from becoming law before its constitutional challenge is heard. A hearing is set for Wednesday. HB 1411 is scheduled to go into effect Friday.

Reporter James Call can be reached at jcall@tallahassee.com. Follow on Twitter @CallTallahassee.

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Republished by the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A.
 
 

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