NEWS: Florida Supreme Court to Hear Pivotal Battle Over Abortion

by | Feb 8, 2024 | Repro Health Watch

Florida Supreme Court to Hear Pivotal Battle Over Abortion

The Hill, February 6, 2024

Florida abortion rights groups are heading to the state Supreme Court this week as part of their effort to put abortion protections on the ballot in November. The court will hear arguments Wednesday about whether the ballot measure language meets state rules, the final hurdle to clear before the question can be put to voters. It needs to issue a ruling by April 1. Supporters have already gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, and the state division of elections officially designated it as Amendment 4, pending Supreme Court review. If successful, the measure could undo the state’s abortion bans and would be a significant blow to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and conservative legislators, who have tightened the rules to make it more difficult for groups to launch successful ballot measures. Florida is one of a handful of red and purple states where groups are pushing to get measures on the ballot in 2024 that would protect access to abortion, following a streak of wins for similar measures in Kansas and Ohio. Florida currently bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It also prohibits abortions at six weeks, though that law hasn’t yet been enacted. Abortion rights advocates are confident that the measure will make it on the ballot, and legal experts say the topic shouldn’t matter. The court is only supposed to consider whether the question is about a single subject and whether the language accurately describes what the amendment will do. But the court is extremely conservative and openly hostile to abortion. Five of the seven Supreme Court justices were appointed by DeSantis, and in a separate case, they appear poised to uphold the 15-week ban.

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U.S. Publisher Retracts Studies Cited by Texas Judge in Suspending Abortion Pill’s Approval

Reuters, February 6, 2024

A U.S. scientific publisher has retracted two studies, largely due to their methodology, that a Texas judge cited last year in his ruling suspending federal approval of the abortion pill mifepristone in response to a lawsuit by anti-abortion doctors and medical associations. The retraction Monday by Sage Publications came less than two months before the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear an appeal by President Joe Biden’s administration in that case. Mifepristone, the first in a two-pill regimen for medication abortion, remains available while the appeal is pending.The lead author of the studies was public health researcher James Studnicki, a vice president at the anti-abortion Charlotte Lozier Institute.”The Charlotte Lozier Institute rejects this baseless attack on our scientific research and studies,” Studnicki and Tessa Longbons, a research associate at the institute and co-author, said in a statement. “To date, Sage has advanced no valid objection to their findings and no legitimate reason for their retraction.”One of the studies found that abortions using mifepristone are followed by a high rate of emergency room visits compared to surgical abortions.The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that mifepristone is “exceedingly safe and effective.”U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Amarillo cited that study in concluding that the plaintiffs had legal standing to bring their lawsuit challenging the pill’s approval, because they would be harmed by having to treat patients suffering from complications following medication abortions. The plaintiffs’ standing is expected to be a key issue in the appeal.

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A Safe Haven for Abortions

The New Yorker, February 5, 2024

For several years, Morgan Nuzzo, a nurse-midwife, and her friend and colleague Diane Horvath, an ob-gyn, talked about opening a clinic that would provide abortions in all trimesters of pregnancy. In May, 2022, the draft opinion of the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade was leaked, infusing their plan with fresh urgency. The women had launched a GoFundMe campaign earlier that spring, noting that stand-alone clinics made up the majority of providers offering abortion after fifteen weeks, and that many of these had closed in recent years. Within weeks, Nuzzo and Horvath had raised more than a hundred thousand dollars; that summer, they started training employees for the new clinic, Partners in Abortion Care, in College Park, Maryland. They saw their first patient that October, and by the end of 2023 they had treated nearly five hundred. The youngest was eleven years old, the oldest fifty-three. A woman waits for the third and final day of her late-abortion process. Diane Horvath, an ob-gyn who co-founded the clinic, says that later abortions require more time because “the cervix has to open further and be softer.” She adds, “Beyond twenty-six weeks, patients have an induction abortion, which is a little more like going into labor.” For nearly a year, the photographer Maggie Shannon visited the clinic regularly with her Canon R5 camera. The clinic’s staff allowed Shannon in because they wanted to help lift some of the secrecy that surrounds later abortions.

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California Universities Are Required to Offer Students Abortion Pills. A Lot Just Don’t Mention It.

The 19th, February 5, 2024

When Deanna Gomez found out she was pregnant in September 2023, it turned her world on end. She was a college senior in San Bernardino and didn’t feel ready to have a baby. She was working two jobs, doing well in her classes, and she was on track to graduate in December. She used birth control. Motherhood was not in the plan. Not yet. She decided her best option was a medication abortion. It’s a two-step process: One pill, taken at a doctor’s office; another pill a day later to induce cramping and bleeding and empty her uterus. She ended up driving more than 300 miles to three medical offices and paying hundreds of dollars in medical and travel expenses. She missed a month of classes, which put her graduation date from Cal State San Bernardino in jeopardy. She had no idea she was entitled to a free medication abortion right on campus. An LAist investigation has found that one year after California became the first state to require its public universities to provide the abortion pill to students, basic information on where or how students can obtain the medication is lacking and, often, nonexistent. “I was really upset when I found out,” Gomez told LAist. “I had to really push myself to make that money happen.” LAist found that nearly half of California State University (CSU) campus clinics do not have any information about medication abortion on their clinic websites, nor do they list it as a service offered. Of University of California’s 10 campuses, eight mention abortion on their clinic websites.

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South Carolina Woman Seeks Clarity on Abortion Ban in Lawsuit Backed by Planned Parenthood

The Washington Post, February 5, 2024

A South Carolina woman who traveled elsewhere for an abortion just days after reaching six weeks of pregnancy wants a court to affirm that the state’s ban on the procedure – when a “fetal heartbeat” can be detected – should not take effect until later in a pregnancy. In a lawsuit filed in state circuit court Monday, Taylor Shelton and Planned Parenthood South Atlantic’s chief medical officer Dr. Katherine Farris argued that the Republican-led state Legislature provided two different definitions of “fetal heartbeat” in its law restricting abortions. They said the correct interpretation is that the ban begins around nine weeks, and not six weeks as currently practiced. The complaint marks yet another attempt by abortion providers to relax the state’s so-called fetal heartbeat law. The South Carolina Supreme Court reversed course last summer when it upheld the ban after striking down a similar version. Last fall, the justices declined to take up Planned Parenthood’s request to broaden the narrow window in which a pregnancy can be legally terminated, leaving the group to start over at the lower courts. Most GOP-led states now have laws in effect restricting access to abortion, including 14 with bans at all stages of pregnancy. Georgia also has a ban in effect once cardiac activity can be detected. Nearly every ban has been challenged in court, and judges are currently blocking enforcement of the bans in four states.

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