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Monday, May 13, 2024 | Back issues
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Florida judge blocks 15-week abortion ban

The temporary injunction comes hours before the law, passed this spring, was set to take effect.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CN) — A Florida judge blocked the state’s recently passed 15-week abortion ban on Thursday, setting the stage for a battle in the state supreme court.

The temporary injunction soon to be formally issued by Leon County Judge John Cooper comes a week after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, leaving the once-federally protected constitutional right to the states. Florida’s 15-week ban mirrors the Mississippi law upheld in the recent decision by the nation’s high court.

In his ruling from the bench Thursday, Cooper called Florida’s ban “unconstitutional in that it violates the privacy provision of the Florida Constitution,” according to the Associated Press.

The Republican-led Florida Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis passed the law in April. House Bill 5 bans most abortions after 15 weeks, except if necessary to save the life of the mother or if the fetus has significant complications to surviving. It does not make exceptions for rape and incest. A previous law allowed abortions until 24 weeks.

HB 5 was set to take effect on July 1 and may still become law for a short time until the judge officially signs the injunction.

In June, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Reproductive Rights and a handful of health care providers sued the state to block the law, arguing an amendment to the state constitution ensures individual privacy rights like abortion.

Section 23 of the Florida Constitution, passed in 1980, 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 Florida Supreme Court has relied on the provision to block other attempts in the past to chip away at abortion rights, such as requiring minors to have parental consent for the procedure or mandating a 24-hour waiting period.

“Today in Florida, there is a glimmer of hope for abortion access,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement. This decision could not come at a more crucial time. As abortion bans ripple across the country, Floridians need to be able to access care at home — and their neighbors need to be able to turn to Florida’s abortion providers as well.”

Daniel Tilley, legal director of the ACLU of Florida, said Cooper's ruling reflects Floridians' belief in the right to privacy.

"Despite the efforts by Governor Ron DeSantis and extremist Florida politicians, we have the power to fight back against these attempts to force their cruel agenda on Floridians," Tilley said in a statement. "We will continue to do so to ensure no one is forced to carry a pregnancy against their will.”

DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the Republican governor is expected to appeal the decision to the Florida Supreme Court. The makeup of the court has swung right in recent years after DeSantis appointed three conservative judges. Republican lawmakers have also indicated they will try and pass stricter abortion measures next legislative session.

According to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, doctors performed 79,817 abortions from January 2021 to May 2022. The vast majority occurred in the first trimester.

Follow @alexbpickett
Categories / Civil Rights, Government, Health, Regional

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