State Lawmakers Defend Abortion Law Ahead Of Court Date

Jun 28, 2016

Credit Ebyabe via wikimedia commons

With the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Texas abortion restrictions, attention is turning to Florida where a similar measure is set to take effect Friday.  The law’s backers are confident their legislation will survive a court challenge of its own. 

Attorneys for Planned Parenthood and the state of Florida are about to square off in federal court over a wide-ranging set of abortion restrictions passed earlier this year.  Lakeland Republican Kelli Stargel sponsored the measure in the Senate, and she believes it’s different enough from the Texas law to withstand the challenge.

“We recognized, actually in the process of the bill passing through the Legislature, we originally had admitting privileges,” Stargel says.  “We then changed that to admitting privileges or transfer rights so we allowed to have it very consistent with how we do other similar type clinics in the state of Florida.”

Admitting privileges were a big part of the Texas case, but Planned Parenthood is challenging three different provisions: redefining trimesters, defunding organizations that perform abortions, and elevated reporting requirements.

Stargel argues those reporting requirements don’t present a burden for providers.

“I would say that those burdens lie with us on the state level more so than on the abortion clinic itself,” Stargel says, “so I don’t—I’m not an attorney—but I believe that what we’ve done with our abortion clinics is the same as how we treat other similarly situated procedures.”

Planned Parenthood says requiring state regulators inspect at least half a clinic’s records annually isn’t applied to any other medical providers. 

And even though the Florida case focuses on aspects of the law different from the Texas case, abortion rights advocates argue the Supreme Court’s ruling will have an effect—forcing the state to show the benefits of its proposals outweigh the burdens they place on women seeking an abortion.

Florida’s measure heads to federal court Wednesday, and the law is set to take effect Friday.