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DeSantis reacts to leaked SCOTUS abortion memo

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Gov. Rich DeSantis said he expects Florida’s new anti-abortion law to face some legal challenges even though a leaked Supreme Court opinion seems to have sent jurisdiction over abortion law back to the states.

Last month, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act that forbids physicians in Florida from aborting fetuses that are 15-weeks old or older. The Act is slated to go into effect on July 1.

On May 9, a draft of a Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) opinion was leaked to the media indicating that the majority of SCOTUS Justices had voted to overturn the Court’s 1973 Roe vs Wade decision that the Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s freedom to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. Overturning the Roe vs Wade ruling would send jurisdiction over abortion law to the states.

The Court’s Chief Justice John Roberts subsequently said that the draft was authentic.

In response, DeSantis said that the leak took place well ahead of when the Court was expected to rule on its previous opinion.

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“It’s really weird that this came out,” DeSantis said during a press conference in Fort Myers on May 3. “ I don’t know what the agenda is behind it, we anticipated getting something meaningful in June overturning the Roe vs Wade ruling.”

In Florida, DeSantis said that the Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act will face state constitutional and statutory challenges even if SCOTUS officially overturns Roe vs Wade, but the Governor said that he expects the Florida law to prevail in court.

“We’ll see what the Supreme Court does, and then we will see some litigation on the state level with the protection that we have done,” DeSantis said. “There is case law that is out there that we could have to overcome those protections – we can do it, but we have to see what happens when the federal law takes effect.”

In the meantime, in a written statement, Stephanie Fraim, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida called the leaked decision “a breach of trust” on the part of the Court.

“This is a stunning breach of trust by the Supreme Court,” Fraim said. “Taking away the freedom from people to make their own important health care decisions is devastating. This leaked memo has already inspired other extremists to call for Florida to ban all abortions – We are devastated, we are furious, and we will fight back.”

According to USAFacts, a non-profit organization and website that provides data and reports on the U.S. population, its government’s finances, and government impact on society, 22 states passed new laws regulating abortion access in 2021. Meanwhile, at least 16 states restricted access to abortion in some way, and six states expanded access to abortion.

The official SCOTUS ruling on Roe Vs Wade is expected in June or July.

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