TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Leon County judge ruled Thursday that a ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy is unconstitutional in Florida, but Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has vowed to continue defending it in court.
Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper had not yet signed the injunction to temporarily block the ban when he announced his ruling. After hearing closing statements from attorneys, he sided with a group of reproductive health providers who argued that the ban violates privacy rights protected by the state constitution.
“It violates the privacy provision of the Florida Constitution,” Cooper said in court, adding: “The state has failed to demonstrate that this law, HB 5, has a compelling state interest to protect.”
House Bill 5, which DeSantis signed into law in April, was set to reduce the current 24-week ban (with no exceptions for rape, incest or human trafficking) and take effect Friday. It’s unclear how long Cooper’s court order will block the ban.
Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for DeSantis, issued a statement announcing that the state will appeal Cooper’s sentence. According to the ACLU, once the state files an appeal, the injunction will be put back on hold and the ban will go back into effect.
“The Florida Supreme Court previously misconstrued Florida’s right to privacy as including the right to abortion,” Pushaw wrote. “We reject this interpretation because the Florida Constitution does not (and never has) include the right to kill an innocent unborn child.”
The American Civil Liberties Union and the law firm Jenner & Block filed the lawsuit June 1 on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Florida, Gainesville Woman Care, Indian Rocks Woman’s Center, St. Petersburg Woman’s Health Center, Tampa Woman’s Health Center and A Woman’s Choice of Jacksonville.
Pusha said that while he was disappointed in the ruling, DeSantis believes the law will ultimately withstand all legal challenges. DeSantis recently praised the United States Supreme Court for overturning Roe v. Wade, which ended federal abortion protections.
“We will appeal today’s ruling and ask the Florida Supreme Court to strike down existing precedent on the right to privacy in Florida,” Pusha said. “The fight for life is not over.”
12 pm report
Related news: Florida judge likely to rule on abortion ban on Thursday
Read the full lawsuit here.
Read a summary of the case here.
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