Renee B. v. Florida Agency for Health Care Administration
Southern Reporter, 2d Series, 2001; 790: 1036-1042
Court Decision: 790 Southern Reporter, 2d Series 1036; 12 July 2001 (date of decision). The Supreme Court of Florida held that Medicaid may refuse to cover medically necessary abortions without violating a constitutional right to privacy. A Florida Medicaid rule excluded coverage for medically necessary abortions except when the mother's life was endangered by the pregnancy, or when the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. The petitioners sought to have this Medicaid rule declared in violation of the right to privacy and therefore invalid. The Florida Supreme Court denied the petitioners' request, basing its decision on a distinction between obstructing a woman's ability to have an abortion and removing all obstacles to a woman's ability to have an abortion. Although the State ensures a woman's choice to have an abortion, it is not required to finance the abortion itself. Because the obstacle to abortion posed by this rule was a function of poverty and because poverty was not the state's creation, the court found "the State has imposed no restriction on access to abortions that was not already present." Based on these findings, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed a lower court's decision holding that the Medicaid rule limiting coverage for medically necessary abortion did not violate a constitutional right of privacy.
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