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Florida Supreme Court agrees to hear challenge to 15-week abortion ban

The controversial law will stay in place while the legal challenge plays out in the state's highest court.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's highest court has agreed to hear a challenge to a controversial law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with few exceptions.

The lawsuit was filed by Planned Parenthood of Southwest & Central Florida, the American Civil Liberties Union, and several other abortion providers that have argued the Florida Constitution protects the right to an abortion.

While the Florida Supreme Court has agreed to consider the case, justices rejected a request to temporarily block the law — meaning the 15-week abortion ban will remain in place while the legal challenge plays out.

“While we are pleased that the court didn't shut its doors completely, we are dismayed that it has allowed this dangerous ban to remain in effect and to harm real people each and every day until this case is finally decided," Whitney White, staff attorney for the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement. 

"We hope that the court acts quickly and follows 40 years of precedent and the will of the people to stop this unconstitutional 15-week abortion ban, which has caused chaos and devastation in the state since going into effect in July," she continued.

What is Florida's abortion law?

In April 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 5 into law, prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks, with exceptions if the procedure is necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. 

Violators could face up to five years in prison, according to the law. Physicians and other medical professionals could lose their licenses and face administrative fines of $10,000 for each violation.

This replaced the previous Florida law that allowed abortions up to 24 weeks.

It was immediately met with backlash, which sparked the ongoing legal back-and-forth over the law.

Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper did rule the law unconstitutional, explaining that "it violates the privacy provision of the Florida Constitution." 

However, Judge Cooper's ruling was short-lived; the state filed an appeal which put the law back into motion.

The 15-week abortion ban officially went into effect in July 2022 and will remain in effect until we get a ruling from the Florida Supreme Court.

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