Judge blocks Florida abortion law but it’s still in effect on first day

Florida's new ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy takes to the courts after a judge rules that abortion is protected by the Florida constitution's right to privacy.

MIAMI – Off-camera, a local abortion clinic director told Local 10 News that they had three patients on the first day of Florida’s new ban. The women were very early in their pregnancies so the new abortion restrictions did not apply.

She worries about women who may have issues after 15 weeks. But a Florida judge has ruled to temporarily block the 15-week abortion ban signed into law last April by Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis.

House Bill 5 restricts abortions after 15 weeks, reducing the existing 24-week ban. The law does not include exceptions for rape, incest and human trafficking and was modeled after Mississippi’s law, which was at the center of the supreme court ruling.

Judge John Cooper found the bill, HB5, unconstitutional.

“Florida’s privacy provision is clearly implicated in a woman’s decision of whether or not to continue a pregnancy,” Cooper said, a judge in Leon County.

Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida and other reproductive health care providers challenged Florida’s ban on abortion at a state court in Tallahassee.

Because Cooper has yet to sign the ruling, that means the ban stays in place; it took effect Friday, July 1.

Cooper said he would be issuing a temporary statewide injunction meaning that the state law will be put on hold but paperwork needs to get in order and it may not be signed until Tuesday.

At issue is a privacy clause in Florida’s constitution.

SECTION 23. Right of privacy.—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. This section shall not be construed to limit the public’s right of access to public records and meetings as provided by law.”

Several providers, including Planned Parenthood, sued the state, arguing that HB5 “will unlawfully intrude upon the fundamental privacy rights of Florida women.”

The state, the defendant in this case, argued that providers didn’t have standing because: “Plaintiffs constitutional rights are not at issue in this case, only their patients’ rights are.”

But Carolina Mala Corbin, a constitutional scholar and University of Miami Law professor told Local 10 News that “the Florida supreme court has held more than once that right to privacy in the Florida constitution extends to protection of abortion. So, a lower court is bound to follow the law as it exists

The state’s attorney general says she is ready to appeal the judge’s decision.

About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.