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If abortion laws are left to states, what will that mean for Florida?

Pro-abortion-rights activists hold signs alongside anti-abortion-rights activists outside the Supreme Court last month.
Pro-abortion-rights activists hold signs alongside anti-abortion-rights activists outside the Supreme Court last month.

A leaked Supreme Court draft opinion on a closely watched abortion rights case would overturn the Roe vs. Wade abortion ruling after almost half a century, leaving it to Congress and state lawmakers.

The draft opinion, written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito, is from a case about a Mississippi law that restricts most abortions after 15 weeks. A new Florida law that takes effect in July would also ban most abortions in the state after 15 weeks gestation. There is no exception in that law for rape or incest.

John Stemberger is president of the Florida Family Policy Council. The draft opinion is "probably the most historic decision since Roe vs. Wade," he said. "And we're thrilled about it. Our vision is to see a world where we view abortion like slavery, something that's unthinkable in a modern, civilized society."

Stemberger said the economic consequences of having a child should not be a reason to have an abortion.

"There's an enormous need for adoption. Thousands of parents go overseas" to adopt, he said. " A mother can go through pregnancy, give that child up and that's a humane option that doesn't involve her parenting the child."

Madeline Zavodny, professor of economics at the University of North Florida, says research shows "you will see worse outcomes for, on average, women and their children if women don't have access to abortion."

Specifically, lack of access to abortion means women and their children have less access to education and higher rates of poverty, she said.

"Unfortunately, they are more likely to be victims of abuse and neglect," she said. "There's just a whole host of undesirable outcomes that I would want everyone to understand before policies change."

Florida's constitution includes a privacy provision that has made the state a leading provider of abortion services in the Southeast. If the draft ruling stands and Roe vs. Wade is overturned, it would not end abortion in Florida.

Stemberger said he expects someone in the Legislature to introduce a bill that would outlaw abortion after six weeks.
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Nancy Klingener covers the Florida Keys for WLRN. Since moving to South Florida in 1989, she has worked for the Miami Herald, Solares Hill newspaper and the Monroe County Public Library.