Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Abortion Talk Might Go on, Even with Decision; URGING Many Who Have Called the Governor Are Asking Him to Veto the Bill. WARNING Courts Can Still Start a Fight to Push Right Back

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Abortion Talk Might Go on, Even with Decision; URGING Many Who Have Called the Governor Are Asking Him to Veto the Bill. WARNING Courts Can Still Start a Fight to Push Right Back

Article excerpt

Byline: DEIRDRE CONNER and LARRY HANNAN

Whether Gov. Charlie Crist vetoes a controversial abortion bill or not, it might not really matter.

If he signs it, the bill would almost certainly be headed for the courts. If he vetoes it - as he is hinting he might - the Legislature could pass it again next year.

And with a new makeup on the U.S. Supreme Court, the law's fate could rest with one "swing" justice, Anthony Kennedy, who often casts the deciding vote in decisions.

"I think it's unconstitutional," said Fletcher Baldwin, a constitutional law expert and professor emeritus at the University of Florida. Baldwin said he believes the bill is an effort to get the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe vs. Wade, the landmark case that established abortion rights.

"The only justice you're really talking to is Justice Kennedy," he said.

Last-minute amendments to the bill added provisions that would require a woman to have an ultrasound before an abortion unless she was the victim of rape, incest, domestic violence or human trafficking. It would also prevent private health insurance plans from covering abortions.

Stephanie Kunkel, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said the group has numerous concerns about the constitutionality of the bill.

"We actually aren't really focusing right now on a court strategy, because our hope is the governor will veto this bill," she said.

Kunkel said the bill has numerous problems, chief among them the contradiction that the bill on the one hand says the state cannot mandate health services, yet on the other hand mandates an ultrasound - a medical procedure - for women seeking an abortion.

The group also estimates that about 86 percent of women covered by employer health insurance plans have coverage for abortions; taking that away would severely restrict women's access to abortion, Kunkel said.

"I think the government has walked as close to the line as it possibly can," said Stephen Durden, professor at the Florida Coastal School of Law. …

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