A Florida state judge temporarily blocked a Florida law banning abortion after 15 weeks. However, the block was put on hold while Florida appeals the decision.
Leon County Circuit Court Judge John Cooper said Tuesday that the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs. v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe V. Wade, has no impact on this case. This is because Roe was founded on an idea of a privacy right that is not explicitly stated in the Constitution. However, the Florida state constitution does provide a privacy right.
Cooper stated that the right to privacy under Florida’s Constitution is “much more broad in scope” than the privacy rights under the United States Constitution. He cited a Florida case where a concurring opinion noted that Roe’s ruling would not affect Florida’s abortion rights.
Cooper also cited past cases, such as a 2003 Florida Supreme Court decision that stated it was wrong to compare federal privacy rights with Florida’s “in light of fact that there is not an express federal right to privacy clause.”
Cooper stated that the state right was explicitly written into the state constitution and that there is more scrutiny. Cooper also said that any law that violates the fundamental right to privacy is “presumed unconstitutional”.
Cooper ruled that the 15-week abortion cutoff is not supported in sufficient state interest. Cooper stated that, while there is an exception to the law regarding abortions that are necessary to save the mother’s lives, there are other circumstances that can have grave and lasting consequences for the patient, their family and the neonate if the pregnancy goes to term.
He also pointed out evidence that the majority of abortions due to fetal abnormalities were performed in the second trimester. He said that many women who had abortions in the second trimester of 2021 were unable to do so because of poverty, late diagnosis, abuse, and addiction.
Cooper wrote that patients who are faced with a diagnosis for a fetal disorder need to have the time to make the right decision for themselves and their families. Cooper cited information from prenatal care providers as well as multiple sources of knowledge about the condition. He also suggested talking with the family, discussing the matter with them, and consulting with clergy, social workers, and other resources.
Cooper’s ruling issued an injunction prohibiting Florida officials from enforcing this ban for 15 weeks. The injunction was quickly rescinded by the Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who swiftly appealed and triggered an automatic stay.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s Office stated in a statement that they were “disappointed” by Cooper’s decision but are confident that the law will be maintained.