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Florida

Post-Viability Abortion Restriction

Florida's post-viability restriction states that no abortion may be provided in the third trimester unless two physicians certify in writing that it is necessary to preserve the woman's life or "avert a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily functionaother than a psychological condition" or one physician certifies in writing that there is a risk to the woman's life or the procedure is needed to avert "a serious risk of imminent substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily functionaother than a psychological condition," and another physician is not available.  If an abortion is provided after viability, the physician must "use that degree of professional skill, care, and diligence" most likely to preserve the life and health of the fetus. However, if that is in conflict with preserving the life and health of the woman, the physician must consider preserving the woman's life and health the "overriding and superior concern."  Fla. Stat. Ann. § 390.0111 (Enacted 1978; Last Amended 2014).


NARAL Pro-Choice America supports the legal framework established in Roe v. Wade and does not oppose restrictions on post-viability abortion so long as they contain adequate exceptions to protect the woman's life and health.  NARAL Pro-Choice America opposes Florida's law because it is unconstitutional to the extent that it prohibits pre-viability abortion by defining viability at the third trimester of pregnancy.  A state may not prohibit abortion prior to viability, which is that point at which a fetus is capable of "meaningful life" outside a woman's body.  Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 163 (1973).  Because viability varies with each pregnancy, states may not declare that it occurs at a particular gestational age.  Colautti v. Franklin, 439 U.S. 379, 388-89 (1979).  Additionally, the law's health exception is dangerously narrow.  Fla. Stat. Ann. § 390.0111 (Enacted 1978; Last Amended 2014).  



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