Florida’s 15-Week Abortion Ban Temporarily Blocked by State Judge

A Florida state judge temporarily blocked a 15-week ban on abortion that was scheduled to start this week. However, the injunction won’t likely go into effect until after the July Fourth holiday weekend.

Although the decision will be appealed in the future and likely to be lifted, abortion rights leaders hail it as granting Floridaans currently seeking abortions an extra time before the restrictive ban takes place.

State circuit court Judge John C. Cooper ruled on Thursday that the law unduly violates the state Constitution’s provision on privacy rights – a constitutional amendment on a ballot measure that voters passed in 1980, and which has been used to block abortion bans and restrictive laws the state has tried to enact since then.

That constitutional provision states, in part, that “every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life.” Cooper, in announcing his ruling, said that he found the 15-week statute “unconstitutional, in that it violates the privacy provision in the Florida constitution, and does not meet the standards” of previous Supreme Court cases relating to abortion.

Florida was open to abortion services until the 24th week of pregnancy before the enactment and enforcement of the 15-week statute.

Cooper must sign a formal order and submit the paperwork by today or the weekend for the injunction to take effect. Because of the Fourth of July holiday, the injunction won’t actually go into effect until sometime next week, allowing the new law to be enforced for a few days before officially being blocked, at least for the time being.

The state indicated that it will appeal the ruling. which was signed in April by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) following the Republican-led legislature’s passage of the statute.

All abortions are forbidden after the 15-week mark. However, exceptions can be made for the good of the individual who is pregnant. For victims of rape or incest and human trafficking, there are no exceptions.

The lawsuit to overturn the law was brought forward jointly by multiple abortion rights organizations, which includes Planned Parenthood, Center for Reproductive Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

A statement was made last month after the lawsuit was filed., ACLU of Florida legal director Daniel Tilley said the statute “ignores the real life circumstances of people who need an abortion and deliberately puts them in harm’s way.” Florida Planned Parenthood Action also released a statement following Cooper’s announced injunction, recognizing that an appeal was imminent.

“This is not the end — we likely have a long fight ahead of us,” the organization said.

“In the wake of a cataclysmic Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, it is more critical than ever to protect abortion access in Florida… We will continue to stand by Floridians to protect their health and lives,” said Caroline Sacerdote, staff attorney for Center for Reproductive Rights.

While abortion rights advocates praised the ruling, they noted that it was likely temporary and had high odds of being upheld due to the conservative composition of the state Supreme Court. The ruling will allow an individual to have an abortion within the 15-week deadline.

“Will it be appealed? Absolutely. And it may even be overturned,” said Boston-based progressive commentator Jesse Mermell. “But tell that to the person in FL who needs #abortion care right now. They’ve just been helped. And that’s worth it.”

“There are approximately 70 facilities that provide abortions in Florida,” said Tracy Weitz, a visiting scholar at University of California, San Francisco who specializes on reproductive health and abortion. “With the injunction set to be ordered, those clinics can “continue to meet patient needs.”

“This is a good thing,” Weitz added.