Analysis

Florida’s 15 week abortion ban will remain in effect as the legal battle over it continues

abortion, Baby Olivia, Florida, 15 weeks, 15 week abortion

UPDATE 7/13/2022: Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper has denied a request from abortion businesses and an abortionist to vacate an automatic stay of the injunction blocking Florida’s 15-week restriction on abortion. This means the injunction remains on hold while the case is heard and the 15-week restriction will remain in effect until the First District Court of Appeal, or possibly the Florida Supreme Court, reaches a decision on the state’s appeal of the injunction.

The state has asked that the case be fast-tracked to the Florida Supreme Court, which would mean bypassing the First District Court of Appeal. The abortion facilities have objected to this.

UPDATE 07/06/2022: The state of Florida has temporarily ensured the 15 week abortion ban survived Cooper’s injunction by filing a swift appeal.

Governor Ron DeSantis had warned last week that the state would fight Cooper’s decision. “We did have a ruling in Tallahassee effectively enjoining the bill that we provided – that I signed to provide protections for unborn babies at 15 weeks. We knew that was likely gonna be what was decided in that case. We knew that we were gonna have to move forward and continue the legal battle,” he said at a press conference.

“These are unborn babies that have heartbeat, they can feel pain, they can suck their thumb and to say that the state constitution mandates things like dismemberment abortions – I just don’t think that’s the proper interpretation, so we’ll appeal.”

Tuesday, Cooper’s stay preventing the law from being implemented took effect; less than an hour later, DeSantis filed an appeal. “Because we appealed, an automatic stay of the injunction is in effect,” DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw said in a statement.

07/02/2022:The state of Florida was blocked from putting its 15 week abortion ban into effect by a circuit judge, who issued a temporary injunction against it on Thursday.

Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper blocked the law from taking effect (which would have happened on July 1), though the state is likely to appeal to the Florida Supreme Court. The law was originally passed in April, but Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and the Center for Reproductive Rights sued to block it. Cooper’s injunction, however, will not take effect until a written order from him is signed, which he said he would not do Thursday — meaning the law could technically take effect for a short period of time.

Abortions committed after 15 weeks of pregnancy are violent procedures, by which time preborn children are likely to feel pain, according to recent research.

The decision was handed down after arguments during a two-day hearing, which began on Monday. “I’m here to litigate the right to privacy in Florida,” he said at the time. “I’m not here to litigate Roe versus Wade.” Ultimately, Cooper claimed the law is unconstitutional, and violates the privacy clause in the Florida state constitution.

“Florida passed into its constitution an explicit right of privacy that is not contained in the U.S. Constitution. The Florida Supreme Court has determined in its words ‘Florida’s privacy provision is clearly implicated in a woman’s decision on whether or not to continue her pregnancy,'” he said, adding:

In other words, on the issue of abortion, the Florida Supreme Court has decided that women have a privacy right under the state constitution to not have that right impacted up to 24 weeks at least. Further, the Florida Supreme Court has found ‘if a legislative act imposes a significant restriction on a woman’s right to seek an abortion, the act must further a compelling state interest through the least intrusive means. … Here, the act effectively bans with extremely limited exceptions pre-viable abortions previously permitted under Florida law.

Governor Ron DeSantis has not yet responded to the court’s decision.

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