Copyright 2000 The Tribune Co. Publishes The Tampa Tribune
The Tampa Tribune
June 29, 2000, Thursday, FINAL EDITION
SECTION: NATION/WORLD, Pg. 12
LENGTH: 592 words
Florida abortion law at risk, too;
SLOAN and ELIZABETH BETTENDORF, of The Tampa Tribune;
TAMPA - A Supreme Court ruling could
spell trouble for those who support the ban on late-term abortions in
A Supreme Court decision throwing out Nebraska's ban on
so-called "partial-birth" abortions may doom a similar
law in Florida, abortion proponents say.
The high court said Wednesday
that Nebraska's law was flawed because it made no exceptions for abortions
a doctor deems necessary to protect the mother's health. Florida's law makes no
such exception, either.
"I'm fairly well persuaded that today's decision
is very good for us," said Charlene Carres, a Tallahassee attorney who
successfully mounted a 1998 federal court challenge of Florida's law.
"It makes it clear that you need a health exception, and Florida's law
does not have one."
Even the author of Florida's law, Sen. Anna Cowin,
R-Leesburg, predicted a federal judge in Miami will throw out the statute,
but said it will be upheld on appeal.
Although some justices said
Wednesday's decision won't bar laws that contain a mother's-health
exception, others said it could overturn laws in 30 states.
Carres, who won a federal court injunction against Florida's 1997 ban on
"partial-birth" abortions, said the mother's health has always been a
major issue in late-term abortions.
"Ever since Roe vs. Wade, the
Supreme Court has said any restrictions on abortion could not force a
woman to sacrifice her health or her life to continue a pregnancy."
Carres said she'll ask U.S. District Court in Miami to throw out the
"I'm not big on guessing what judges will do, but the Supreme
Court decision is very supportive. It's good for us."
however, said Florida's law is so narrowly drawn that it doesn't need a
The state law outlaws abortions only
after the fetus has nearly left the mother's body, she said. At that
point, it is the child's health, not the mother's that is usually at stake.
"When a child is ... half outside in the open air, so to speak, that
child has rights as a human being," Cowin said. "Killing that child is
For that reason, she said, while she predicted the Miami
judge will throw out Florida's law, "That decision will be overturned on
Wednesday's ruling drew barbs or applause, depending on
where people stood in the continuing battle over abortion.
"Because of the Supreme Court's decision today, unborn children ...
across this country are at risk of being pulled almost completely from
their mother's womb and savagely killed," said U.S. Rep. Charles Canady,
R-Lakeland, a staunch abortion foe.
The decision also outraged a local
women's health provider.
"I believe partial-birth abortion is an
atrocity," said Cookie Gray, executive director of the Brandon Crisis
Protecting a woman's "health" is another issue, she
"What does that mean - an in-grown toenail? It's almost that
ridiculous. Some people will have emotional reasons to justify anything."
But at the Tampa Woman's Health Center, where abortions are performed up
to 24 weeks of pregnancy, the decision was hailed as "a victory for
"I think it's great that it was shot down," JoDell Nauert, the
center's executive director, said of Nebraska's abortion ban. "It's the
patient and the doctor who should decide what's best, not the Legislature,
not your next-door neighbor. They don't walk in your shoes." Jim Sloan can
be reached at (813) 259-7691 and Elizabeth Bettendorf at (813) 259-7633.
LOAD-DATE: June 30, 2000