Judge Temporarily Blocks DeSantis’ 15-Week Abortion Ban

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Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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A Florida judge temporarily blocked legislation Thursday banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, arguing it violates the state constitution’s privacy provision.

Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper implemented a temporary injunction against the law that is expected to take effect Friday, the Washington Post reported. The Republican-led bill, signed by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on April 14, bans abortion after 15 weeks except in cases of medical emergencies threatening the health and life of the mother and in instances of fatal fetal abnormalities.

“I’m not here to litigate abortion, I’m here to litigate the right to privacy in Florida. I’m not here to litigate Roe v. Wade,” Cooper said, according to the Post.

The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, officially giving states the power to regulate abortion. The Florida bill directly challenged the 1973 decision while Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban was being deliberated in the Court.

The Florida Constitution’s right to privacy provision states, “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 privacy provision has been used to strike down previous abortion restrictions passed in the state, according to Politico. (RELATED: Judge Blocks Louisiana’s Abortion Ban From Going Into Effect)

DeSantis’ office plans to appeal the ruling and ask the Florida Supreme Court to reverse its precedent on the privacy provision, they said in a statement obtained by the Daily Caller.

“While we are disappointed with today’s ruling, we know that the pro-life HB 5 will ultimately withstand all legal challenges,” the statement read. “The Florida Supreme Court previously misinterpreted Florida’s right to privacy as including a right to an abortion, and we reject this interpretation. The Florida Constitution does not include–and has never included–a right to kill an innocent unborn child. We will appeal today’s 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.”

DeSantis said at a Thursday press conference that the ruling was not “unanticipated,” but will continue to challenge the state’s precedent.

“These are unborn babies that have a heartbeat, they can feel pain, they can suck their thumb,” the governor said. “And to say that the state Constitution mandates things like dismemberment abortions, I just don’t think that’s the proper interpretation.”

Nearly 80,000 women received an abortion in Florida from one of the 55 providers in the state in 2021, Politico reported. In 2021, nearly 4,800 women traveled to Florida from out-of-state to have an abortion. Current law allows for abortions to be performed up until 24 weeks gestation with the exception of life endangerment, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center of Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Florida and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state earlier this month to block the law, according to a statement by the Center of Reproductive Rights.

“HB 5 would force Floridians to remain pregnant against their will, violating their dignity and bodily autonomy, and endangering their families, their health, and even their lives,” the statement said. “The impacts of pushing reproductive health care out of reach in the middle of a maternal mortality crisis will fall hardest on Black women, who are nearly three times more likely than white women to die during childbirth, or shortly after.”

DeSantis vowed to expand “pro-life protections” in Florida following the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

“Florida will continue to defend its recently enacted pro-life reforms against state court challenges, will work to expand pro-life protections, and will stand for life by promoting adoption, foster care and child welfare,” he said.