FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, firstname.lastname@example.org, 786 363 2720
TALLAHASSEE - Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will appear in federal court in Tallahassee on Friday, January 27, to ask the court to block enforcement of a Florida law targeting the support networks of Florida women contemplating seeking an abortion. The hearing comes in a lawsuit challenging a Florida law which, under threat of criminal penalties, requires individuals and organizations that advise a Florida woman considering an abortion to recite state-mandated information, to notify her parents if she is a minor, and to register with the state’s health care administration agency. In the hearing, the ACLU will be urging the court to issue a preliminary injunction blocking the law.
The Florida law requires anyone who may provide counsel on seeking an abortion -- from clergy, attorneys, women's advocacy and community organizations to domestic violence shelters or charitable organizations -- to recite a specific speech written by the state legislature and to register themselves as an "abortion referral or counseling agency" with the state. The registration requirement, passed in the 2016 legislative session and signed by Florida Governor Rick Scott, was part of a larger package (H.B. 1411) that sought to block abortion care in Florida. A federal court has already struck down other provisions of H.B. 1411.
Last month, the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the law's constitutionality on behalf of clergy and local and state based community groups. The law is a clear violation of the First Amendment by compelling speech -- putting restrictions on the content and viewpoint that must be shared by an individual -- and limiting speech about abortion care only to those who have already registered as an "abortion referral or counseling agency" with the state's health care administration agency. This law also violates a woman’s right to privacy on many levels, including by intruding into the privileged and confidential spiritual advice that women receive from their spiritual advisors.
“The Florida legislature has long sought to undermine a woman’s constitutionally guaranteed right to choose an abortion by passing laws that put needless burdens on the health care providers, doctors, and the women themselves,” stated ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon. “With this latest effort to restrict women’s rights, legislators are now targeting the support networks that women turn to in making these decisions, including friends, family members and clergy, by threatening them with criminal penalties. In other cases, the courts have stepped in to protect the rights of women from politicians meddling in their personal lives. With this lawsuit, we’re asking the court to do the same for the trusted confidants who women trust to help them make difficult, important decisions.”
Federal Court Hearing in Challenge to Florida Abortion Referral Restrictions
January 27, 2017 10:00AM
United States Courthouse
111 N. Adams St.
Tallahassee, Florida 3230
Attorneys for the ACLU will be available to the media outside the courthouse after the hearing.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three ministers, three rabbis, the Women’s Emergency Network (WEN), Emergency Medical Assistance, Inc. (EMA), Palm Beach County Chapter of the National Organization for Women, and The Miami Workers Center.
The plaintiffs are represented by; Nancy Abudu of the ACLU of Florida, and Talcott Camp and Andrew Beck of the ACLU, and ACLU cooperating attorneys Wesley Powell and Mary Eaton of Willkie, Farr & Gallagher, New York, New York; and James K. Green of James K. Green, P.A, West Palm Beach, Florida.
More information about the lawsuit is available here: https://aclufl.org/2016/12/13/aclu-challenges-florida-law-requiring-state-registration-for-people-consulted-by-a-woman-contemplating-abortion/
In a separate lawsuit, the ACLU of Florida is awaiting a ruling from the Florida Supreme Court challenging a law that requires a Florida woman seeking an abortion to wait at least 24 hours after visiting the clinic to obtain care, delaying her abortion and forcing her to make an additional, unnecessary trip.