Why Are These Religious Leaders Challenging a Florida Abortion Law?

On Dec. 12, 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a suit challenging a component of a Florida law set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, that would require any person or organization that advises a person seeking an abortion to provide state-mandated information about abortions, to have all persons providing such counsel to register with the state and face criminal penalties for failing to do so, and to inform the parents of any minor seeking their counsel (which would break with current Florida legal precedent).

by Yahoo Beauty’s Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy

December 21, 2012

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Six of the plaintiffs in the ACLU suit are clergy members — three rabbis and three ministers — who claim that the law, passed as part of the H.B. 1411 anti-abortion legislative package signed by Gov. Rick Scott in May, violates their First Amendment rights to freedom of religion, as well as their First Amendment claims to free speech.

Nancy Abudu, the director of legal operations at the ACLU of Florida, tells Yahoo Beauty that this law being challenged within H.B. 1411 isn’t so unlike many of its counterparts in other states; for example, Ohio Governor John Kasich just signed a 20-week abortion ban in his state last week.

Nancy Abudu, the director of legal operations at the ACLU of Florida, tells Yahoo Beauty that the clergy plaintiffs in their suit are all individuals who, as part of their responsibility to their congregants, might enter into situations in which they provide counseling to someone who might, for any reason, be thinking about terminating a pregnancy. Given the way the law is written, she explains, a strict reading of the statute could be interpreted to mean that the counseling services clergy regularly provide would be directly impacted by the law — making all religious leaders who provide counsel potentially liable for criminal charges. [READ MORE]

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