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Florida Supreme Court Hands Down Abortion Decision

The Florida Supreme Court has upheld a law requiring that women seeking abortions must be informed of all medical risks and give written consent before the procedure can be performed. Doctors, however, are limited to providing strictly medical information specific to the patient, reports the Associated Press. The Presidential Women’s Center, based in Florida, had brought the case, arguing that the 1997 law, which has not been enforced since its enactment, was “unconstitutionally vague,” according to the Miami Herald and a burden on women’s right to privacy.

The law has been challenged in two lawsuits and two appeals, according to the Herald, because of its vagueness. It was not until the fall of 2005 that the state of Florida changed its argument, states the Herald, asserting that doctors need to inform their patients of the medical risks of abortion and pregnancy and not “economic, psychological, social, religious or other issues,” a limitation that the original law had not included, according to the AP. The plaintiffs in the case, State v. Presidential Women’s Center, have 15 days to appeal, according to the Herald.

The law will not go into effect immediately due to continuing legal battles over other elements of the original law, reports the AP. Said Marshall Osofsky, the plaintiff’s lead counsel, “The Supreme Court has recognized what we have argued all along: abortion providers should not be singled out and subjected to different requirements than any other medical provider.” Bebe Anderson, of the Center for Reproductive Rights and also a lawyer for the plaintiffs, added, “It’s unfortunate that it was not until the eleventh hour that the state reversed its position on the government infringing upon the doctor-patient relationship. We are gratified that the court limited the reach of this law.”

Sources:

AP 4/7/06; Center for Reproductive Rights press release 4/6/06; Miami Herald 4/7/06