Judge to temporarily block Florida’s 15-week abortion ban

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Judge to temporarily block Florida’s 15-week abortion ban

A judge in Florida on Thursday declared the state’s 15-week abortion ban “unconstitutional” and said he will temporarily block the law, nearly a week after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Driving the news: The law, which was signed into law in April, is scheduled to take effect on Friday. Leon County Judge John Cooper said the temporary restraining order will take effect as soon as he signed it, but that it won’t be today, meaning the law could be enforced for a brief period of time.

Details: Florida’s H.B. 5 has no exceptions for rape or incest and only allows abortions past 15 weeks in cases of a medical emergency or if there’s a “fatal fetal abnormality.”

  • Abortions must also be reported to the state, along with information on why the procedure was provided.

Catch up fast: Abortion providers filed a lawsuit against state officials earlier this month saying the law violates the Florida Constitution. It’s currently legal in Florida to get an abortion up to the 24th week of pregnancy.

What he’s saying: Cooper said the law is unconstitutional because it violates the privacy provision of the state’s constitution and “does not meet the standard” of the Florida Supreme Court rulings that protect abortion rights in the state.

  • “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,'” the judge said.
  • “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,” he added.

Overall, the state’s argument to enforce the law was not “legally sufficient to justify the statutory ban,” Cooper said, calling the providers’ witnesses “more credible” than those brought by the state.

Go deeper: Nearly all abortions are illegal in 9 states but more bans are coming

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