TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Judge John Cooper has indicated he will sign a temporary injunction that will block changes to Florida abortion law, following a court challenge by reproductive health providers who say the state constitution guarantees a right to the procedure.
That written order, he warned on Monday, could take up to 24 hours to complete and will not be signed Thursday.
Friday is the date HB5, or the Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality bill, along with more than 100 other bills, are due to become state law.
The 15-week abortion ban was passed by the GOP-controlled state house and signed into law by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis this spring.
The law would prohibit 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. It does not allow for exemptions in cases where pregnancies were caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.
Under current law, Florida allows abortions up to 24 weeks.
Cooper said HB5 violates privacy protections afforded in the state constitution.
The state argued that abortion providers don’t have standing to make a claim of a personal right to privacy since they were acting as third parties on behalf of their patients. Attorneys for the state also maintained that the state’s constitutional right to privacy doesn’t include the right to abortion, arguing that the state has an interest in safeguarding health and protecting potential life.
A statement from the Governor's office shortly after the ruling reads as follows:
While we are disappointed with today’s ruling, we know that the pro-life HB 5 will ultimately withstand all legal challenges. The Florida Supreme Court previously misinterpreted Florida’s right to privacy as including a right to an abortion, and we reject this interpretation. The Florida Constitution does not include–and has never included–a right to kill an innocent unborn child. We will appeal today’s ruling and ask the Florida Supreme Court to reverse its existing precedent regarding Florida’s right to privacy. The struggle for life is not over.
State Senate Democratic leader Lauren Book said:
The clear overreaches were exposed and the ruling reaffirms that the rights of women, girls, and sexual assault survivors in Florida will not be further eroded ... Advocates for choice and for women to have autonomy over their bodies will be there at every turn, continuing to fight with everything we have until women’s rights are fully restored.
Data shows the majority of abortions in Florida occur before the 15-week cutoff. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report said about 2% of the nearly 72,000 abortions reported in Florida in 2019 were performed after 15 weeks.