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Florida's 15-week abortion law will stay in place for now, judge says

The legislation will make its way through the appeals process.

LEON COUNTY, Fla. — The legal battle over Florida's 15-week abortion restriction law continued this week in court.

Earlier this month, a judge temporarily blocked the new law – determining it violated the privacy provision of the Florida Constitution.

But, the state almost immediately appealed the decision. That appeal triggered an automatic stay, putting the law back in place until it can work its way through the legal system.

An obstetrics and gynecology doctor joined a group of abortion clinics, including locations in the Tampa Bay region, in trying to get the judge to vacate the automatic stay. But, Leon County Circuit Court Judge John Cooper denied that request.

So, the law is staying in place for now, as the appeals process plays out. The case could potentially make its way to the Florida Supreme Court.

Florida’s new law prohibits abortions after 15 weeks, with exceptions if the procedure is necessary to save a mother’s life or the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow for exemptions in cases where pregnancies were caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.

Attorneys for Planned Parenthood and other health providers have argued a 1980 amendment to the state constitution guarantees a broad right to privacy, which includes abortion. They say Florida voters than reaffirmed that right by rejecting a 2012 ballot initiative that would have weakened its protections.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' office has previously maintained that Florida's right to privacy as been misinterpreted as including abortion. The DeSantis administration has rejected that interpretation, saying the state constitution has never included the right to terminate a pregnancy.

Florida has the third-highest abortion rate in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's 2019 data, the most recent figures available.

According to the Agency for Health Care Administration, 79,817 abortions were performed in 2021 in Florida. Of those, 59,257 abortions happened within the 1st trimester and wouldn't be impacted by the 15-week law.


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