WFSU News · Tallahassee · Panama City · Thomasville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

SCOTUS ruling overturning Roe sends the abortion issue to states. What are Florida politicos saying?

WFSU Generic blue background and logo

Florida lawmakers, advocates and nonprofit organizations are reacting to the U.S. Supreme Court decision Friday that strikes down a constitutional right to abortion. The reversal of a 49-year-old precedent leaves it up to each state to regulate abortion, meaning, the availability of the procedure will depend on that state’s laws and judicial processes.

Alexandra Mandado is President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida. Her message to those concerned about access in the state: Abortion is still legal here, for now.

“But make no mistake – this decision goes beyond abortion,” Mandado said. “This is about who has power over you, who has the authority to make decisions for you, and who can control how your future is going to be.”

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling upheld a Mississippi law that bans abortion at 15 weeks and provides no exception for rape or incest. Florida passed a similar bill this year, which is headed to court next week.

The ACLU of Florida, which brought the lawsuit against the Florida 15-week abortion law, blasted the Roe V. Wade decision.

"The courts are letting anti-abortion politicians attack our fundamental rights, but they don’t get the final say,” said Amy Turkel, the group’s interim executive director. “We do.”

Now, Democratic state lawmakers like Rep. Nicholas X. Duran, D-Miami, are calling on Florida voters to channel their anger over the decision into electoral momentum for Democrats come November.

“My wife and I are gutted just thinking about the generations of women coming up now with fewer rights to privacy and autonomy in health care decisions,” he said.

Republican state Sen. Kelli Stargel sponsored the state’s new 15-week abortion law, said she is in full agreement with the justices’ argument that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided nearly 50 years ago.

“The damage Roe has caused this country is profound,” she said. “Unfortunately, laws and legal opinions cannot change hearts and minds influenced by decades of an anti-life culture.”

House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, said attention must now shift to the state courts and the Florida Supreme Court. Florida’s Constitution has a privacy clause that has previously been interpreted as protecting abortion, and fellow Republican, Rep. Erin Grall, says, that’s next.

“In reviewing HB 5, the Florida Supreme Court has an opportunity to apply a textual interpretation of Florida’s privacy clause, so we can act upon this decision and do even more to protect the preborn,” Grall said.

Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, has been a staunch abortion opponent.

“As an adopted child myself, I am grateful for this decision,” he said. “The court is finally righting a grievous wrong.

And incoming Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, who has previously balked at a complete ban on abortion and waffled on whether there should be an exception for rape and incest in the current law, said lawmakers in Florida will continue to defend life.

House Minority Leader-designate Fentrice Driskell said the decision by the Supreme Court was devastating but not surprising.

“For Floridians, today’s decision ratifies the radical and dangerous legislation jammed through the state government by Republicans and clears the path for a full ban of all abortions in our state, without exceptions for rape or incest,” she said.

A draft of the ruling was leaked more than a month ago, giving time for observers to study its implications.

Orlando Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani called it a blow to the collective freedom of women and Americans.

“Abortion is about freedom, options, self-determination, and a free society,” she said. “This SCOTUS decision completely strips us of our collective freedoms, taking away our power to control our personal decisions and handing it over to politicians.”

The issue will likely impact Florida’s gubernatorial race. The Democrats in the race, Agriculture Secretary Nikki Fried and former Gov. Charlie Crist have put out statements criticizing the court decision. Fried says she will fight to protect the right to privacy in state constitution. Crist said he would sign an executive order protecting access to abortion on his first day in office.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, which advocates for reproductive healthcare access, 26 states are likely or certain to ban abortion or pass further restrictions on the procedure, including Florida. There are 13 states that have trigger laws, making abortion illegal immediately or through quick state action.

Longtime abortion foe John Stember also weighed in on the ruling, providing a more nuanced take on where the debate over abortion goes from here. While it does move on to the states, Stemberger, who represents the Florida Family Policy Council, called on lawmakers to expand outreach via pregnancy centers.

“In addition, we will also be working with all 200 pregnancy centers in Florida to provide additional financial and human support so that they can care for an increased number of women and their babies. We can and should love them both, and adoption is always the better option. Since the Roe decision in 1973, more than 63 million preborn children have had their lives extinguished. This is a national tragedy."

Stemberger, in a seven-page document, also suggested states adopt policies that allow new parents to stay on Medicaid, longer, which Florida recently did.

“Additionally, a state can extend officials in their states. Medicaid benefits to provide longer assistance to a mother after her child is born,” he said.

Sarah Mueller is a journalist who has worked for media outlets in several states since 2010. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010 and worked as a print reporter covering local government and politics.