Florida Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Challenge to 15-Week Abortion Ban

The Florida Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear a challenge filed by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) targeting the state’s 15-week abortion ban, but declined to grant the plaintiffs’ request for an emergency injunction blocking the law.

The bill was passed during the 2022 legislative year and provoked backlash from pro-choice advocates for offering no exceptions that would allow a women to obtain an abortion after 15 weeks gestation, even in the case of rape or incest.

“As Governor DeSantis said, we are better when everybody counts. The Florida Supreme Court denied both of Planned Parenthood’s emergency motions asking the Court to block Florida’s law from taking effect. The Court also accepted jurisdiction of the case and set a briefing schedule. From here, we will continue to defend our pro-life protections,” DeSantis’s press secretary Bryan Griffin said in a statement.

Although the ACLU and Planned Parenthood were successful in having their lawsuit heard before the Florida Supreme Court, their motion to temporarily block the existing anti-abortion legislation failed.

“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, a staff attorney for the ACLU wrote in an official statement released Monday.

“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.”

The announcement comes on the heels of Kamala Harris’s speech in Tallahassee, Fla. on Sunday coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, during which the vice-president denounced the “extremists” who passed a “radical abortion ban” last year, referring to the 15-week ban.

“And can we truly be free if so-called leaders claim to be ‘on the vanguard of freedom’ while they dare to restrict the rights of the American people and attack the very foundations of freedom,” Harris added.

While Florida’s Supreme Court is set to hear the legal challenge, Republicans in the state legislature are considering introducing a 12-week ban, with exceptions for rape and incest, during the upcoming session.

Incoming Senate president Kathleen Passidomo (Rep., Naples) has said she supports putting such a bill on the legislative agenda.

“I want the exclusions for rape and incest, and other than that I don’t have a dog in the fight,” Passidomo told Politico during a phone interview last November. “If we do something, I would like to get that in.”

The Florida supreme court has previously upheld the right to an abortion, citing a clause in the state constitution that protects privacy — but that decision was reached before DeSantis moved the court in a more conservative direction.

According to data from the CDC, there were roughly 72,000 abortions performed in Florida in 2019, 2 percent of which were performed on unborn children 14 weeks or older.

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