TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The future of abortion access in Florida takes center stage Friday as state supreme court justices will hear arguments on a challenge to the 15-week ban approved by lawmakers last year.
"So, Florida, because of its own constitution, its state constitution that expressly protects privacy, including a woman's right to choose, was one of the last states in the Southeast where women could terminate a pregnancy legally," said Louis Virelli, a professor of law who teaches constitutional law at Stetson College of Law in Gulfport.
Virelli said the court will have to revisit if privacy includes abortion rights. And if not, there are more impacts. Florida’s six-week ban is also in play and would become law 30 days later.
"If the 15-week ban is upheld and the six-week ban takes effect, we know for a fact that most women don't know they're pregnant within the first six weeks of a pregnancy as defined by the law. Therefore, abortion becomes effectively unavailable to everyone with a six-week ban," explained Virelli.
Since the national protection under Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022, several states including those in the south moved to ban the procedure. Planned Parenthood of Florida told FOX 13 in June it saw the consequences.
"We've actually seen a 700% increase in abortion patients from other states," said Laura Goodhue, the executive director of Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates in an interview on June 22.
The Florida Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Tallahassee.
New data from the Guttmacher Institute confirms this trend nationwide, finding abortion rose in most states this year, tracking a six-month period from 2020 to 2023. Florida’s numbers increased by 4,950, according to the Guttmacher Institute data.
"The result will be a veritable abortion desert for many women in the South. There will be no place they can go to end an unwanted pregnancy," said Caroline Mala Corbin, a professor of law at the University of Miami College of Law.
Corbin said this is a more conservative court and what they decide will be lasting.
"The Florida Supreme Court has already held repeatedly that Florida's right to privacy includes a right to abortion. So what the question really is this Supreme Court going to overrule existing precedent in the state of Florida," said Corbin.
There are seven justices on the court, and they will need a four justice majority for a winner after they deliberate.
Corbin and Virelli said there’s no timeline for when the justices will make a decision, and it could be weeks or months. Oral arguments begin Friday at 9 a.m., and it’s open to the public online.