What the Supreme Court Vacancy Means for Reproductive Rights in Florida

The right to access abortion safely and legally in this country is on the line. President Trump has promised to only appoint biased justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade.

If the Senate does not intervene, the balance of the court will turn against the constitutional right to access abortion, and the right to be free from discrimination in this country. We cannot allow our daughters and granddaughters to have fewer rights than we do. Abortion has been legal in this country for more than 40 years – most women today have only known a country where they have the right to access abortion.

This will spark grassroots action across the country. More than seventy percent of Americans support access to abortion. In the last 18 months, millions of people have marched, flooded town halls and the halls of Congress. Countless voices have been raised to demand our rights. And if they were fired up before, you’d better believe they are super-charged now.

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The Senate must reject any Supreme Court nominee that opposes Roe v. Wade and the right to safe, legal abortion. The next Supreme Court nominee must be a fair-minded constitutionalist who values equality and justice for all, not just the wealthy and powerful, and who understands the impact of the law on all Americans.

The Impact in Florida

Floridians are currently protected by Article 1, Section 23 of our state constitution, which expressly protects the right to privacy. This protection does not rely on federal court decisions like Roe v. Wade or Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Critically, Florida courts have applied a stricter standard in analyzing abortion restrictions under the state’s constitutional privacy protections than federal courts would use under the federal Constitution for the same restrictions.

The bar is so high that Florida’s right to privacy basically assumes a law is unconstitutional unless the state can show it had a compelling interest for passing it. For these reasons, the strong privacy protections in the Florida constitution will come under renewed attack from abortion opponents if Roe v. Wade or Planned Parenthood v. Casey is overturned.

It has never been more important to vote in the upcoming August and November elections. Florida needs more pro-reproductive health legislators to fend off the attacks on our health and privacy rights that are sure to come.

Make you plan to vote now. Update your voter information or register to vote.

Rep. Jennifer Mae Sullivan (R-Mount Dora), who previously sponsored the mandatory 24-hour abortion delay legislation declared unconstitutional by a judge earlier this year, has already indicated she may seek an outright abortion ban in Florida if Roe v. Wade is overturned. The stakes for Florida with the upcoming Supreme Court nomination are huge and go far beyond Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey: the progress we have made on health care and on rights for women, workers, LGBTQ people, people of color, and others hang in the balance.