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Where do abortion rights stand in Florida?

Florida's new 15-week abortion law is the subject of a legal battle between the state and a county circuit judge.

TAMPA, Fla. — There's been a lot of political back-and-forth regarding abortion across the U.S. and here in Florida.

In June, the Supreme Court sent the debate back to the states, deciding there was no federal constitutional protection for abortion – reversing the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision that had stood for nearly a half-century.

This led to a number of automatic abortion bans in some states with so-called trigger laws in place and left uncertainty about the future of abortion laws in other ones.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis had already signed a law, banning most abortions after 15 weeks. The legislation was signed in April and set to take effect in July.

But, that law hit legal challenges with the state constitution. So, with everything going on at both the state and federal levels, you may be wondering: Where does Florida currently stand on abortion rights?

HB 5, Florida's law banning most abortions after 15 weeks, with few exceptions — not including rape, incest or trafficking — was set to go into effect on Friday, July 1.

But, on Thursday, June 30, Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper ruled the law "unconstitutional," explaining that "it violates the privacy provision of the Florida Constitution." However, this temporary block couldn't take effect until the judge put the official ruling into writing.

So, Florida's 15-week abortion law went into effect on July 1 as planned, only for a few days, though.

On Tuesday, July 5, the judge made it official by signing the temporary injunction that reproductive health providers were pushing for. His signature on the ruling initially meant that abortion in Florida would be legal until 24 weeks of pregnancy, like it was before. 

This ruling was short-lived, too, because the state, almost immediately, filed an appeal.

The appeal put an automatic stay in place — in other words, the law banning abortions at 15 weeks is back on, for now. It will stay in place until a judge says otherwise.

While the future of abortion rights in Florida is still up in the air, DeSantis has made his stance clear time and time again.

"The Florida Supreme Court previously misinterpreted Florida’s right to privacy as including a right to an abortion. We reject this interpretation because the Florida Constitution does not include–and has never included–a right to kill an innocent unborn child," he said in a statement on June 30.

At a press conference later that day, the governor said he was prepared to continue to the legal battle over abortion. 

According to the Agency for Health Care Administration, 79,817 abortions were performed in 2021 in Florida. Of those, 93.9% were performed during the first trimester and wouldn't be impacted by the 15-week law.

RELATED: Who would be affected by Florida's proposed 15-week abortion ban?

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