Judge rules Florida’s 15-week abortion ban unconstitutional
How did Central Florida lawmakers vote on the politicized issues in the 2022 Session? Image via AP.

Cooper cited the right to privacy enumerated in the Florida Constitution.

A state judge has found Florida’s 15-week abortion ban unconstitutional and will issue an order halting the law.

Judge John Cooper’s ruling Thursday is a preliminary win for abortion rights advocates, who sought to stop the Republican-backed law (HB 5) before it takes effect at midnight. Cooper plans to issue a temporary injunction against the legislation but said the written order formally pausing the law won’t come Thursday because of time constraints.

Cooper cited the right to privacy enumerated in the Florida Constitution.

“Florida’s privacy provision is clearly implicated in a woman’s decision of whether or not to continue her pregnancy,” he said, quoting the Florida Supreme Court. “In other words, on the issue of abortion, the Florida Supreme Court has decided that women have a privacy right under the state constitution to not have that right impacted up to 24 weeks at least.”

The law’s start date comes exactly one week after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, which became the inspiration for Florida’s legislation. In upholding Mississippi’s law, the Court negated half a century of federal abortion precedent by overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, eliminating the federal right to an abortion.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Florida’s 15-week abortion ban in April, calling it a protection of life and those that can’t protect themselves.

“While we are disappointed with today’s ruling, we know that the pro-life HB 5 will ultimately withstand all legal challenges,” DeSantis’ Office said in a statement sent by spokesman Bryan Griffin. “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 statement continued. “The struggle for life is not over.”

Speaking in Sanford later, DeSantis told a crowd the ruling wasn’t unexpected.

“It was not, of course, something that we were happy to see,” DeSantis said. “These are unborn babies that have heartbeat, they can feel pain, they can suck their thumb. To say that the State Constitution mandates things like dismemberment abortions, I just don’t think that’s the proper interpretation.”

Democratic lawmakers and activists pushed back against the 15-week abortion ban throughout the 2022 Legislative Session. Opponents hosted rallies, packed committee rooms and flooded the phone lines of lawmakers, and that opposition was reignited last week with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democratic candidate for Governor, was among the first to react to Cooper’s verbal ruling.

“The 15-week abortion ban was just ruled unconstitutional in Florida. Because it is,” Fried tweeted. “We won’t go back. We will keep fighting.”

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who is the front-runner in the Democratic nomination, also issued a statement.

“Today is an important victory for freedom across the Sunshine State and Florida’s constitutional right to privacy,” he said. “The reproductive freedoms of Florida’s women stood strong in the face of Governor DeSantis’s ongoing attempts to strip away their right to make decisions over their bodies.”

Among other criticisms, opponents lamented a provision requiring two physicians to certify a life-threatening emergency in order to obtain an abortion after 15 weeks. They contend the provision will disproportionately harm low-income and minority women, who may lack adequate access to health care.

According to a staff analysis, Florida recorded 209,645 live births in 2020 and 72,073 abortions — most of them elective.

Unlike the U.S. Constitution, the Florida Constitution is explicit about the right to privacy, which the Florida Supreme Court has previously ruled encompasses the right to an abortion. Ultimately, Florida’s 15-week abortion ban is expected to go before the Florida Supreme Court.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel and Rep. Erin Grall, had been among the strictest abortion prohibitions in the nation. The bill contains no exceptions for rape or incest, but does provide an exception if it is necessary to save a pregnant person’s life.

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling Friday, a dozen other states have There are suggestions that DeSantis and Florida’s Republican-led Legislature could hold a Special Session to further reduce the window for abortions. Cooper’s ruling complicates that path.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • Remove Them All

    June 30, 2022 at 1:30 pm

    So the right to privacy extends to the idiotic preface of a right to kill? Whereas the right to privacy does not extend to an erosion of Sunshine Laws and Blockchain technology? Boy, that’s super curious!

  • C. Knoevul

    June 30, 2022 at 2:22 pm

    Waaay overbroad interpretation of Article 23 of the Florida Constitution. If this kind of thing maintains then a claim of privacy will be enough to shield people from guilt over any malevolent act that doesn’t take place in the public eye.

  • Richard Bruce

    June 30, 2022 at 3:13 pm

    Why are so many people love killing babies? Are not pre-born babies living? If not when are they “living”?

    Art 1 Sec 23; Right of privacy. — Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life except as otherwise provided herein. This section shall not be construed to limit the public’s right of access to public records and meetings as provided by law.

    Art 1 Sec 2. Basic rights.—All natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life and liberty, to pursue happiness, to be rewarded for industry, and to acquire, possess and protect property. No person shall be deprived of any right because of race, religion, national origin, or physical disability.

    • Alison Dent

      July 1, 2022 at 11:20 am

      They are “living” when they can survive outside the womb, period. That is the literal definition in both biological and legal paradigms – including your citations here. Fetuses are not recognized as natural persons, as seen conspicuously in such things as the US Tax Code, and what you’ve chosen to leave out here: “All persons BORN or naturalized in the United States”. You’re a US citizen once you’re _born_, not before.

      Viability as the defining point isn’t even a modern definition, it’s ancient, showing up in myriad legal and religious texts for centuries.

  • Born to kill?

    June 30, 2022 at 3:18 pm

    The above posts only make sense if you define abortion as a “right to kill” or “malevolent act.” Clearly some people don’t view a fetus as a person; if they make a stronger case than you do then you have automatically lost your argument because you have already surrendered all your other ground. So, don’t go that route. Rush Limbaugh said stopping abortion means changing minds in a way that calling someone a baby killer will never do. Don’t take my word for it, do your research.

  • tom palmer

    June 30, 2022 at 5:06 pm

    This will be in court for awhile as the Right to Stick Their Noses Into Other People’s Lives cult marches on.

  • Ron DeSantis Sucks

    June 30, 2022 at 5:32 pm

    A government so small, it can fit in a uterus!

  • Impeach Biden

    June 30, 2022 at 6:26 pm

    Per the People’s Paper of Broward County (Sun Sentinel), between 96 to 98% of the abortions performed right now in Florida happen before 15 weeks. So we are arguing over 2 to 4%.

  • Jerry

    June 30, 2022 at 10:02 pm

    Suddenly liberals and the ACLU love the idea of the right to “medical privacy.” But they sure didn’t think that 6 months ago when they were trying to force everyone to get an experimental vaccine.

    • Alison Dent

      July 1, 2022 at 11:08 am

      Suddenly rightwingers hate the idea of bodily autonomy. It was the right they invoked to reject covid vaccination. You can’t have it both ways, dinguses; either all human beings have a natural right to decide what is done with their own body, or they don’t. And your argument fails on another point – many progressives respect crazy MAGAs right to not get vaccinated. We don’t think it’s the morally appropriate choice, but we fully agree that you have a right to not have something done to your body against your will, and should not be forced to accept a vaccination. (Except if you work in healthcare because that has been a requirement by law in every state for 70+ years.)

      • Dan

        July 1, 2022 at 9:47 pm

        Your president tried to force every company in the country to terminate employees who don’t get the vaccine. He attempted to force everyone to either choose between getting the vaccine or being homeless. And liberals were cheering as people were losing their jobs.

Comments are closed.


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