Florida’s 15-week abortion ban halted by judge, quickly reinstated

As the battle over abortion moves to individual states, pro-life advocates in Florida were disappointed Tuesday when, as Fox News reported, a law banning abortion after 15 weeks was temporarily blocked by a judge, but received a bit of good news when the prohibition was swiftly reinstated just hours later.

Leon County Circuit Court Judge John Cooper issued the initial order temporarily halting enforcement of the ban, opining that the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade has no impact on the controversy at hand, because though the federal constitution has no enumerated right to privacy – under which many claim a right to abortion – the Florida constitution does, thanks to an amendment passed in 1980.

“The right to privacy under the Florida Constitution is ‘much broader in scope’ than any privacy right under the United States Constitution,” Cooper stated, adding that he had no choice but to follow state Supreme Court precedent, which held in 1989 that the right to privacy in Florida encompasses a right to abortion, as the Tampa Bay Times noted.

Though Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is hoping that the aforementioned state precedent is overturned, Cooper maintained, “This Court must follow Florida Supreme Court’s precedents on the right to privacy as those precedents currently exist, not as they might exist in the future.”

However, within an hour of Cooper’s ruling, the state filed an appeal of the temporary injunction, the effect of which was to nullify the halt on the ban, meaning that the abortion bill signed by DeSantis earlier this year is effective once again.

As such, the battle over abortion will continue in Florida, and while the state constitutional amendment cited by Cooper did not refer specifically to abortion, the state Supreme Court has held that the privacy right in contained “clearly” covered “a woman’s decision of whether or not to continue her pregnancy,” according to the Times, and that any law restricting abortions before “viability,” or roughly 24 weeks, would be deemed unconstitutional.

DeSantis believes that line of precedents warrants reversal and that he intends to pursue such an outcome in court. “The Florida Supreme Court previously misinterpreted Florida’s right to privacy as including a right to an abortion, and we reject this interpretation,” a spokesperson for the governor declared in a statement.

“The Florida Constitution does not include – and has never included – a right to kill an innocent unborn child. We will…ask the Florida Supreme Court to reverse its existing precedent regarding Florida’s right to privacy. The struggle for life is not over,” the statement added.

In the wake of Tuesday’s legal whipsawing, the pro-abortion plaintiffs in the case pledged to continue their fight as well, saying, “The trial court correctly recognized this law as a blatant violation of Floridians’ state constitutional rights, and we’re determined to get it blocked for good,” but whether they succeed, only time will tell.