Florida's abortion law in all its collective parts is so unAmerican, so unconstitutional and, frankly, so offensive that any day this law is challenged in court is a day I'm ready to throw a party.
On Tuesday it happened again. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida filed a federal lawsuit challenging a 2016 extension of the gone-mad abortion law the courts are picking apart bit by bit. See the complaint here.
Thank you, ACLU.
I know I'm in the minority among my fellow Republicans. I don't care. I'm right, they're wrong -- this is a constitutional consideration, not remotely a moral one. I think deep down they know it, too.
Nothing says Florida is governed by a Legislature of mostly old-men-ideologues and zealots more surely than a law requiring -- yes, under penalty of law -- requiring people and organizations to give a woman seeking their counsel state-mandated information, to notify her parents if she is a minor, and to register with the state’s health care administration agency.
What's so funny is, the same legislators who cry the loudest to bring only laws that pass constitutional muster are the very ones who voted for Florida's draconian, constitutionally out-of-sync abortion law.
The registration requirement, passed in the 2016 legislative session and signed by Gov. Rick Scott, was part of HB 1411, a larger package that sought to block abortion care in Florida. A federal court has already struck down other provisions of 1411.
“A woman considering an abortion may consult with any number of people in making her decision,” said Nancy Abudu, legal director of the ACLU of Florida. “This ill-conceived law criminalizes the intimate conversations a woman has with her support network. The law not only forces people to provide information they may not be qualified to provide, it clearly intends to bully and intimidate women’s trusted advisors with a vague and complicated bureaucratic process, under the threat of criminal charges.”
Let's spell this out as clearly as we can:
The law makes no distinction among the many, many types of people and groups a woman might consult during the process of considering or seeking an abortion: charitable organizations, attorneys, clergy, women’s advocacy organizations, domestic violence shelters, sexual assault survivor centers, and community organizations, among many others.
The point is, however, any of those persons or groups will be required to register with the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) as an “abortion referral or counseling agency,” and must provide mandated -- though undefined -- information, including medical information, with criminal penalties for failure to comply. I asked this question when the law was plowing through the Legislature, I'll ask it again: Is Florida trying to punish these folks for being unwanted buttinskis?
The lawsuit has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle. You might remember, in August, Hinkle definitively blocked a related Florida abortion law to prevent state funds from going to organizations that provide abortions.
Again, this Florida law the ACLU is attacking violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution "by compelling speech, putting content- and viewpoint-based restrictions on speech, and limiting speech about abortion care only to those who have already registered with the ACHA."
This is America, people, come on.
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith
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