Florida judge says Florida 15-week abortion law is unconstitutional – CBS Tampa

FLORIDA. (CW44 News At 10 | CNN) – In a setback for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican lawmakers, a Florida judge has ruled that a new state law banning abortions after 15 weeks is unconstitutional and he plans to prevent it from going into effect on Friday.

In an oral ruling on Thursday, John Cooper, the second judge of the judicial circuit, said he would issue a temporary statewide injunction that will take effect once he signs the written order in the challenge filed by some abortion providers in the United States. Florida.

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The decision is a short-term victory for abortion rights advocates in Florida, and it comes a week after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and eliminated a constitutional right that had existed for half a century. Once Cooper signs the ruling, abortion in Florida will remain legal until 24 weeks gestation, making the state one of the most tolerant in the South.

Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for DeSantis, told CNN in a statement that the state plans to appeal the ruling.

“While we are disappointed with today’s ruling, we know that the pro-life HB 5 will eventually pass all legal challenges,” Pushaw said.

Abortion rights advocates and Democrats celebrated Cooper’s decision. In a statement, Florida Democratic Party chairman Manny Diaz said the law was “a gross interference in personal medical decisions that should be between patients and their doctors.”

“Politicians like the governor have nothing to do with restricting the health freedoms of Floridians,” he added.

In the short term, the decision will have far-reaching implications for women in the South, where so-called trigger laws — bans to take effect with the annulment of Roe v. Wade — and bans that are no longer in legal uncertainty are soon to come to a halt. be granted access to the procedure. Florida has been a safe haven for women seeking abortions for years, and health care providers expect the state’s 55 clinics to be busy with appointments for women from surrounding states where abortion may soon be illegal.

DeSantis signed the new abortion restrictions in April at a megachurch in Orlando, surrounded by women and children and cheered by pastors, anti-abortion activists and other supporters.

The law would ban abortion after 15 weeks, with no exceptions for women who become pregnant as a result of rape, incest or human trafficking. The law would allow abortions in cases where a pregnancy poses a “serious risk” to the mother or if a fatal fetal abnormality is discovered and two doctors confirm the diagnosis in writing.

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About 75,000 of the 80,000 abortions reported by the state in 2021 took place during the first trimester, meaning the vast majority of procedures will still be allowed under the new state law. Historically, Florida has been among the states with the most abortions per capita per year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The law directly challenged decades of legal precedent declaring abortion constitutionally protected in Florida. The Florida state constitution includes a right to privacy, which the state Supreme Court has long interpreted as giving Floridians the freedom to access abortion without government intervention.

In his ruling from the bank, Cooper said the ban “violates the privacy provision of the Florida Constitution.”

While the decision will delay implementation of the state’s new abortion restrictions as the case moves through the court system, the state’s conservative Supreme Court is expected to have the final say. All seven members of the state’s Supreme Court were appointed by Republican governors, including three selected by DeSantis. By the time the case makes its way to the state Supreme Court, there could be a fourth DeSantis appointee on the bench due to a recent retirement.

Pushaw said it is the state’s argument that the Florida Supreme Court “formerly misinterpreted Florida’s right to privacy as the right to abortion. We reject this interpretation because the Florida Constitution does not contain — and never included — a right to to kill an innocent unborn child.”

The dramatic shift in Florida’s legal landscape has left Democrats and abortion rights advocates pessimistic that the long-standing legal protections will long stand up to this challenge.

“We don’t believe this court will see it like other courts,” Senate minority leader Lauren Book recently told CNN. “Every bit of protection, that bit of protection is gone.”

CORRECTION: This story was updated to reflect the time when Florida’s 15-week abortion ban will end.

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