July 1, 2022 -- A Florida judge ruled that the state’s new 15-week abortion ban is unconstitutional and said he intends to block the law next week, according to The Associated Press.

The ban went into effect on Friday. But Second Judicial Circuit Court Judge John Cooper said he would issue a temporary injunction in the coming days that would allow abortion in Florida to resume and remain legal until 24 weeks into pregnancy.

In his ruling from the bench, Cooper said the ban “violates the privacy provision of the Florida constitution.” Abortion rights advocates and Democrats celebrated the decision.

The law is a “gross interference in personal medical decisions that should be between patients and their doctors,” Manny Diaz, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, told CNN.

“Politicians like the Governor have no business restricting Floridians’ health freedoms,” he said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law in April, setting it up as a so-called “trigger law” that would take effect once the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The law bans abortion at 15 weeks with no exemptions for rape, incest, or human trafficking, but it allows for exceptions in cases where the pregnancy is a “serious risk” to the mother or if a fatal fetal abnormality is detected.

The new law challenges decades of legal precedent establishing abortion as protected under the Florida constitution, CNN reported. The state’s constitution includes a right to privacy, which the state Supreme Court has interpreted as giving Floridians the freedom to access abortion.

Once Cooper signs a written order, the injunction will delay the implementation of the new law as the case proceeds through the legal system. State officials in Florida plan to appeal the decision and ask the state Supreme Court to reverse its existing precedent regarding the right to privacy, CNN reported.

“While we are disappointed with today’s ruling, we know that the pro-life HB 5 will ultimately withstand all legal challenges,” Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for DeSantis, told CNN.

The state Supreme Court “previously misinterpreted Florida’s right to privacy as including a right to an abortion,” she said. “We reject this interpretation because the Florida Constitution does not include — and has never included — a right to kill an innocent unborn child.”

Ultimately, the state Supreme Court decision could reflect the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that abortion rights aren’t protected under privacy rights, CNN reported.

Cooper repeated several times in court that the matter at hand wasn’t related to Roe v. Wade but the state’s constitution.

“These decisions are to be made at the state level, rather than at the federal level,” he said. “That’s what this procedure is about, is construing a provision of the Florida Constitution.”

In the meantime, patients and abortion providers could face confusion as they wait for Cooper’s written order, which may not happen until after the July 4 weekend, the AP reported.

“It’s a lot of unnecessary delays and patients are at the whims of the legal system right now,” Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, told the AP.

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The Associated Press: “Judge to block Florida abortion ban; Kentucky ban on hold.”

CNN: “Judge says Florida’s 15-week abortion law is unconstitutional.”

 

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