The judicial system’s wisdom and integrity is questioned when various high courts fundamentally disagree on key issues. The tug-of-war over who is right and who is wrong was put on full display on Tuesday as a Florida State judge temporarily blocked a Florida law that follows the recent Supreme Court ruling that remanded the abortion issue back to the states.
The Florida law bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. That law is now suspended while the state appeals.
Surprising many, Leon County Circuit Court Judge John Cooper’s ruling stated that the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade does not pertain to this case.
Cooper ruled that the Florida state constitution specifically includes a right to privacy, which guarantees the right to an abortion. “The right to privacy under the Florida Constitution is ‘much broader in scope’ than any privacy right under the United States Constitution,” Cooper wrote.
The judge cited a past Florida case that found that Roe’s overruling would not impact Florida’s abortion rights.
Cooper also cited other cases, including a 2003 Florida Supreme Court case that noted it would be wrong to compare federal and state privacy rights “in light of the fact that there is no express federal right of privacy clause.”
Cooper, therefore concluded, “that a 15-week cutoff for abortions is not supported by a sufficient state interest.”
Some believe the judge is desperately reaching to support his ruling and that his overriding motive was less about abridged privacy rights and more about advocacy of a pro-choice position, as indicated in this line in his ruling:
“While the law [in question] has an exception for when abortion is needed to save the mother’s life, there are other conditions that may not be fatal but can have profound and lasting implications for the patient, the family, and the neonate if the pregnancy is carried to term.”
The judge also wrongly stated that most abortions are carried out because of fetal abnormalities. Studies by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) refute that assertion. Their report reads:
“16-year-old girls giving birth have a 1 in 570 chance of having a baby with a serious or fatal birth defect. In other words, 99.83% of their babies are born perfectly healthy. As the mother’s age increases, the incidence of serious or fatal birth defects rises, but still remains small. At the age of 35, pregnant mothers can expect a 99.48% probability of having a perfectly healthy baby, and at 40, the probability is 98.48%.”
Cooper argued: “Patients faced with a diagnosis of a fetal condition also need time to make the right decisions for themselves and their families, based on information from their prenatal care providers and from multiple sources with knowledge about the fetal anomaly at issue, discussion with family and other support systems, and consultation with their clergy, social workers, or other resources.”
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody quickly appealed Cooper’s injunction barring Florida officials from enforcing the 15-week ban.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ office said in a statement:
“The Florida Supreme Court previously misinterpreted Florida’s right to privacy as including a right to an abortion, and we reject this interpretation,” the statement said. “The Florida Constitution does not include–and has never included–a right to kill an innocent unborn child. We will appeal the ruling and ask the Florida Supreme Court to reverse its existing precedent regarding Florida’s right to privacy. The struggle for life is not over.”
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