The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida has begun beefing up its legal staff to possibly take on some of the more questionable bills passed during Florida’s recent legislative session. Among the pieces of legislation under scrutiny are three of the five anti-abortion rights measures passed this year.
Maria Kayanan, Associate Legal Director for the ACLU of Florida, tells The Florida Independent that the ACLU of Florida is still looking closely at all the legislation that could prove problematic. She said the ACLU “rarely rules out suing,” but they are presently taking a closer look at what exactly the ramifications of the legislation could be.
According to The Miami Herald, the ACLU of Florida “has hired two more lawyers and is planning to add another to help handle an expected workload increase resulting from the Republican-led Legislature’s recently ended session.”
The recently ended legislative session in Florida has been called a “war on voters,” as well as a “war against women.” Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida even labeled it the most “anti-women legislative session in Florida history.”
Currently, both the ACLU of Florida and the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates are taking a close look at a handful of bills that could seriously infringe upon the reproductive rights of women in the state. “So many bills have been eroding our civil rights,” Kayanan said.
Stephanie Kunkel, a spokeswoman for the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, tells the Independent that the problem with the bill has less to do with public funds and more to do with privacy rights. She says the bill could roll back privacy rights for women seeking an abortion in Florida.
According to Kayanan, the state of Florida has expressed privacy rights in its own state constitution. Article 1, section 23 of the Florida Constitution states that “every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life except as otherwise provided herein.”
The ACLU and Planned Parenthood also see very big problems with a bill that would add restrictions for young women seeking a judicial bypass for the mandatory parental notice of abortion for minors. Kayanan called the bill “mean-spirited” and “problematic” for any young girl who faces the daunting task of seeking a judicial bypass during an already trying time in her life.
Much like most the bill’s opponents, both Kunkel and Kayanan said the bill was completely unnecessary in the first place.
According to reports by OSCA Court Services, the number of granted petitions for a judicial bypass has steadily decreased in the past few years in Florida. In 2007, courts granted 587 petitions. In 2010, however, Florida courts only granted 371 petitions.
The ACLU of Florida is also scrutinizing a bill that would mandate doctors to perform an ultrasound on any woman receiving an abortion, whether or not it is medically necessary.
All three bills are still awaiting a signature from Gov. Rick Scott.