Will we see new abortion law before Florida Supreme Court rules on 15-week ban?

'Me, personally, would I support further restrictions? Yes, absolutely,' Rep. Spencer Roach says
Posted at 7:43 PM, Jan 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-24 19:43:58-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — State lawmakers seeking more abortion restrictions are hopeful they might come sooner rather than later. That's after the Florida Supreme Court decided to keep the state's 15-week ban in place until justices offer their final ruling on the law's constitutionality.

Monday evening, the high court kept an injunction on hold and Florida's current law in place until they can determine if the state's broad privacy protections cover abortion.

It was a blow to the women's health clinics that brought the challenge last year.

Laura Goodhue, a vice president at Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida, told us it was "heartbreaking" that the 15-week ban would remain in the interim. She was hopeful Monday's decision wasn't foreshadowing the court's ultimate conclusion.

"Florida does have a stronger right to privacy than the Federal Constitution," Goodhue said. "So, we're hoping that you know the [Florida] Supreme Court will honor that tradition and recognize that our rights to privacy include our rights to make decisions about our own bodies without political interference."

Anti-abortion Republicans, meanwhile, spent Tuesday excited. They felt more confident the justices would lean their way. Some thought that might give gas to the idea of enacting further abortion restrictions in the future. GOP leaders have said they'd support such a move if the 15-week ban holds up. There's nothing filed at the moment, yet lawmakers like Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, are keeping their eyes open. 

"Me, personally, would I support further restrictions? Yes, absolutely," Roach said. "Whatever form that might take— I would be supportive of anything that might protect the unborn."

It seems unlikely a court decision would come quick enough for this year's session, but lawmakers could offer a policy regardless— like a trigger law. Ideas have ranged from 12-week to six-week bans.

In statements, however, the governor's office vowed only to "continue to defend our pro-life protections."

"The Declaration of Independence enumerates three unalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — and we stand for all of them," Gov. Ron DeSantis's Press Secretary Bryan Griffin.

House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, went somewhat further in his comments.

"The court's decision doesn't change the timeline for the people's elected representatives to support the cause of life," Renner said. "We should move in a pro-life direction, and I look forward to continuing those conversations with my colleagues."

Democrats have vowed to fight whatever new limits might arise during this session or beyond it. State Sen. Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach, noted the real power was in voters' hands to voice their opinion and pressure the legislature.

"There's no question," Berman said. "Census and polling show that most people feel it's important for women to have access to abortions."

The next step in the legal battle will likely be for attorneys to file for oral arguments. That would create a timeline for the justices to convene, expected later this year. Their decision could then come after weeks or months of review.