Florida Judge Strikes Down 15-Week Abortion Ban, DeSantis Vows Appeal

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A state judge ruled a Florida law restricting abortions was unconstitutional and is scheduled to issue a statewide injunction Tuesday.

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Florida’s legislature approved a new bill in March that reduced the window for seeking an abortion to 15 weeks, from the 24 weeks previously permitted. In April, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed the new law, which provides no exceptions for victims of rape, incest or human trafficking.

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Planned Parenthood joined with other activist groups earlier this month seeking court intervention and a ruling that would strike down the new abortion restrictions.

Leon County Judge John Cooper Thursday ruled the Sunshine State’s new law banning abortions after 15 weeks of gestation is unconstitutional, according to Florida’s constitution. The order is reportedly still being drafted and Cooper will allow the state to review it before his signing it on July 5.

The new law becomes effective at 12:00 a.m. Friday, which means aborting fetuses past the 15th week after gestation will be illegal in Florida until Tuesday’s injunction by Cooper is filed. The state is expected to appeal the decision, according to WCTV’s Jacob Murphey.

Planned Parenthood argued HB5 violates the Florida Constitution’s right to privacy, which they declared confers  robust right to privacy. A decades-old Florida Supreme Court decision that extends privacy rights to abortion has been cited as precedent for overturning previous restrictive abortion laws.

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A right to privacy under Florida’s state constitution being cited by the plaintiffs takes the case far from the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that returned the issue of abortion to individual states.

The state argued the law supports maternal health, so therefore it has a compelling interest to make sure it takes effect Friday. Governor DeSantis’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Political observers expect the case to eventually be decided by the state’s Supreme Court. Precedent exists to suggest Cooper’s ruling could be affirmed by the state’s high court. The makeup of the court has shifted to a more conservative one as Governor DeSantis has appointed three justices.

Planned Parenthood, which received approximately $500 million in government funding last year, is also suing Ohio, Idaho and Utah abortion bans.

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