Supreme Court rules 15-week abortion ban will remain — at least temporarily

Supreme Court of Florida
Oral arguments are expected on whether the new law violates the state's right to privacy.

The state Supreme Court Monday refused to block the state’s prohibition on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy as the legal battle challenging the new law continues.

The 4-1 decision to keep the 15-week ban in effect was in response to abortion clinics and one doctor asking that an injunction that would allow abortions after 15 weeks remain in effect while underlying issues with the law are resolved before the Court.

Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper found that the law (HB 5) did violate the Florida Constitution’s right to privacy, which is more explicit than the U.S. Constitution’s. He issued an injunction against the ban’s enforcement July 5, making it so that women could have an abortion up to the time that Roe v. Wade allowed.

But the state appealed that decision in the First District Court of Appeal and Cooper’s injunction was in effect for less than an hour. Abortion rights supporters filed an appeal of that decision in August.

The Supreme Court turned away the appeal of the First District Court of Appeal’s ruling on the injunction in one sentence Monday, with no reasoning. It was signed by Justices Charles Canady, Ricky Polston, John Couriel and Jamie Grosshans.

Justice Jorge Labarga, however, dissented, saying that the plaintiffs, “have met the exacting burden required for this Court to stay the First District of Appeal’s decision pending review in this Court.”

 Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor called Monday’s ruling, “radical and extreme.”

“Even with a strong and broad right to privacy in the Florida Constitution AND long-standing legal precedent, the Florida Supreme Court and the GOP politicians want to control our lives and restrict the freedom to make person choices,” Castor tweeted.

The state’s 15-week ban on abortion, with no exceptions for rape or incest, was passed after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade court case that gave women the right to an abortion up to the point when a baby can survive outside the womb. Numerous states filled the void the overturned court ruling left by passing laws that effectively banned the procedure completely. Texas, for example, banned the procedure before most women know they are pregnant.

Gov. Ron DeSantis hailed the passage of Florida’s law — the state’s most restrictive since abortion became legal. He has alluded to promoting more laws that would roll back abortion rights further, although he has not been specific about what changes he would support.

“House Bill 5 protects babies in the womb who have beating hearts, who can move, who can taste, who can see, and who can feel pain,” DeSantis said when he signed the bill. “Life is a sacred gift worthy of our protection, and I am proud to sign this great piece of legislation which represents the most significant protections for life in the state’s modern history.”

But abortion rights groups filed suits, state by state, to establish the right to an abortion under state constitutions because language in some of them protects a woman’s privacy and equal rights.

The South Carolina Supreme Court earlier this month provided an early, first hopeful sign the strategy would work. It ruled that South Carolina’s ban on abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy violated the right to privacy as stated in the South Carolina Constitution, according to the New York Times.

Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani called Monday’s ruling — coming one day after the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling —  “heartbreaking.”

“They have not closed the door completely but allowing the ban to remain in effect continues to cause individuals’ suffering and takes away our freedoms,” the Orlando area lawmaker said.

Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said the 15-week ban, in practice, has made doctors hesitant to provide medical care once a pregnancy is past the law’s cutoff.

One doctor recounted one such case in the Tampa Bay Times in a guest column posted Saturday.

“It’s extremely difficult to get doctors to sign off (on the procedure)  … until it’s absolutely life-threatening because they fear the penalties,” Goodhue said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected]


18 comments

  • Paul Passarelli

    January 24, 2023 at 10:24 am

    Someone needs to explain to me how a 15 week window of opportunity constitutes a hardship or a denial of freedoms.

    Put aside the rape issue. That’s a crime already. As for incest. well, that’s just a whole nother level of depravity. What I want to know is why under any normal circumstance a 3-1/2 month timespan from the time a woman has sex, even if it’s cut to 11 weeks that she missed her cycle constitutes the ‘big deal’ that the plaintiffs are asserting?

    P.S. I really don’t want to hear from any men on this. It’s not their bodies that are being affected. Also, I’m not even saying that I approve of the ban. I’m only asking about why a brightline timeframe is the focus of the controversy.

    Let the barrage of slings & arrows commence.

    • cassandra

      January 26, 2023 at 12:16 am

      No slings or arrows! But would you consider it freedom if when you buy a gun, at the end of 15 weeks you can continue to keep and bear your gun, but you can’t use it unless you are in the hospital almost dead?

      Approx. 91-93% of abortions are performed at or before 13 weeks, so it’s a relatively small percentage of women needing an abortion after 15 weeks.

      There are many reasons that a woman could find herself in that situation: Younger or poor women usually need time to get enough money to pay for the abortion and find transportation. Arranging and paying for childcare and travel— maybe including lodging and food—will add time. Girls are supposed to be at school and if women have a job they need time off work. Other delays can be due to time required to find a provider, which after 13 weeks becomes even more difficult. Organizing all of this can be overwhelming especially when the girl/woman is panicking about an unwanted pregnancy that can actually destroy her future.

      A 10 year-old wouldn’t even be thinking about pregnancy and her parents probably would not find out a she is pregnant until it becomes obvious. Many women don’t know they are pregnant because they have no pregnancy symptoms. Some have difficulty with their insurance provider. Many teens are afraid to tell their parents. Some parents won’t consent so the girl has to go before a judge who can cruelly deny the right to an abortion based on GPA (for example,) so an appeal is needed—which may or may not be granted. Other delays are a result of useless government barriers– such as multiple in-person provider visits and mandatory waiting periods.

      Some girls and women don’t know where to go. If a woman mistakenly goes to a “crisis pregnancy center” she can be mislead for weeks. Women in an abusive relationship may not be ‘allowed’ to go to a doctor. Abusive relationships often worsen during pregnancy so the need for an abortion may not be recognized until weeks into the pregnancy. In some relationships the man and woman may disagree on whether the woman should have an abortion. Some women say they waited hoping their relationship would get better. Woman may be unsure of whether to have an abortion—- family and friends can help or hinder the decision-making!

      Getting a 2nd medical opinion on the fetus’s condition adds time. Health problems of the woman or fetus may develop or be discovered after 15 weeks—-such as finding that the fetus is missing a brain or skull. Sometimes an abortion is needed so that the woman can have treatment for a newly diagnosed cancer, the woman develops an infection or has a partial miscarriage which will result in health/life threatening infection.

      Bans result in doctors being so afraid of losing their license or going to prison that they are denying women care even when it’s clearly needed. There are women videotaping themselves at hospitals as doctors watch them progress toward death. Women are bringing diapers full of blood and foul substances to hospitals, begging for treatment, and being sent away. All across the country there are women at home bedridden, with fevers, passing out, after being sent home because hospital lawyers are afraid that the woman isn’t close enough to dead yet. Prior to bans, the same refusal to treat a patient would have resulted in malpractice suits and criminal charges.

      I read Jessica Valenti “Abortion, Every Day” which anyone who wants to know what’s talking place across the country should read.

      • Paul Passarelli

        January 26, 2023 at 1:56 pm

        Cassandra,

        I don’t want to get into the 2A analogy because gun rights have already been severely eroded by the wackjobs on the Left!

        Right off you admit that the rest of what you are talking about constitutes <10%, so clearly out of the 'normal' territory. I suspect you already know that I'm not disagreeing with you in any of the abnormal situations you mentioned. Although some of the reasons you cited ring hollow, or should I say seem like poor excuses to prudent ears. But that's not important.

        And in all candor, some of the gross-out situations you describe simply lack credulity. Doctors fear malpractice cases more than they fear criminal prosecution. Because right or wrong a malpractice claims stick, and will cost the doc hundreds of thousands in premiums. Whereas an unjust prosecution would find its way into the court of public opinion with the doctor's lawyer standing on the courthouse steps proclaiming that the poor girl presented as a bloody mess… So, that's my $0.02 on that.

        As for the 10-yo; well, there was almost certainly a crime committed in that situation. I say almost because I've known 11-12-yo girls (younger relations of people I knew in my teens) that were promiscuous and knew the risks. All the risks, sexual, moral, and legal, and were excited by it. So a bit of the naiveté argument goes out the window too.

        And finally, I'll reiterate, as a man, meaning I have an XY chromosome set, I don't think it's in my (or my bretheren's) prerogative to judge. And that is something I do feel strongly about.

        • cassandra

          January 27, 2023 at 4:22 pm

          *** see below reply. I seem unable to operate this site properly. Needs a five minute edit option!

        • Victoria

          January 27, 2023 at 4:42 pm

          Most amniocentesis procedures happen between 15/16 and 20 weeks of gestation (during the second trimester of pregnancy). Having an amniocentesis earlier in pregnancy poses more risks, such as miscarriage. They are offered to most women 37+ years old. A woman may find out in her second trimester that her or her partner’s family can pass down a genetic disorder.

          • Paul Passarelli

            January 27, 2023 at 6:23 pm

            I understand. And that amnio could bring devastating information to prospective parents. But that procedure is not essential in any way for human reproduction. People (just like us) have been making babies for 40,000 years without it, and our slightly pre-modern human ancestors for millions of years prior to that.

            FWIW I would assume that a 37+yo woman can most likely afford to travel out of state if need be. Even if it has to be an extended stay. It’s safe to presume that there isn’t going to be a whole lot of call for a prosecution in that scenario.

            If that means that the amnio has to be done earlier or with a finer biopsy needle, that then that is the medical option.

            Of course there is the harsh reality, My friend Jack used to say: “Bad things happen to good people. That’s life.”

            I would all that if a 37-yo woman believed s that there is a significant risk of a genetic anomaly, such as Down’s Syndrome and this is her first pregnancy, because her life was too busy in her youth, then she made a choice and might have to bear the consequences of her decisions. Why? Because “That’s life.”

            But please understand that I’m not the least bit in favor of a “No Exceptions” clause.

        • cassandra

          January 29, 2023 at 11:11 am

          Re: your January 27, 2023 at 6:23 pm reply to Victoria:

          Hi Paul,

          Your comment to Victoria is confusing. You seem to be saying women should happily accept the medical care that was available millions of years ago in order to comply with a governor’s misreading of the Bible. Is this what you are saying?

          It is immoral and abusive to force a woman to leave the state in order to receive standard medical care. And, as Victoria writes, amniocentesis “earlier” is riskier so it’s not an appropriate alternative. Why should a woman risk miscarriage to please a man who finds in his Bible something not there, but is blind to what is?

          It’s not our place to make decisions for, or violate in any way the autonomy of, a woman because we disapprove of what she has chosen to do for the past 37+ years. And it’s even less the place of a governor—who recognizes no one’s rights—to force families to plan their lives around his inadequacies and his need to control the most intimate aspects of other people’s lives.

          Pretty sure you already know that I respect your opinion, and that I would defend your right to it even if I found it offensive. If you have time and interest, maybe you’d like to explain this one!

          • Paul Passarelli

            January 29, 2023 at 2:11 pm

            Hi Cassandra, We’re good. :^)

            First, I think it’s important to reiterate that I have no dog in this fight. I’m kibitzing, I’m bringing up issues as they occur to me.

            My first reaction to the whole issue is that I DO NOT BELIEVE that the government should have any say in the matter at all!!!
            That said I just as fervently believe that the government should dedicate exactly ***ZERO*** dollars to pay for anyone’s choice whatsoever.

            Since neither of my above scenarios are even remotely possible, there needs to be a compromise. That’s just the way it is.

            Every point I bring up is meant to point out an *ABSURDITY* in one or both sides of the debate. If someone is offended by that, GREAT! Then I’ve accomplished _my_ goal.

            Now I’ll take issue: It is neither immoral nor abusive to expect someone to travel to seek the services they *desire*. And note I did say “desire” specifically. We can debate whether it’s a want or a need until the cows come home, but it is inevitable that every pregnancy has a completion date regardless of what actions one chooses to take.

            If nothing else, I think it can and *SHOULD* be argued that my complete lack of empathy is the best reason to keep people with a ‘Y’ chromosome completely out of the debate! — Unless you want my tax dollars…

            Regards,

            P.S. I hope you are enjoying your weekend.

          • Paul Passarelli

            January 29, 2023 at 2:23 pm

            Something else just occurred to me.

            I don’t debate or negotiate like the typical Conservative. Those bloodless fools tend to cede ground like it’s going out of style. Once a conservative forfeits a point of give up a chip, they never seem to go back for it.

            Liberals on the other hand are never satisfied with the tokens they fail to win. They will repeatedly take another swing at the piñata. If they hit it and don’t pick up the particular piece of candy they wanted they will demand that everyone give theirs back so they can have another chance.

            Look at every issue the Left wants. It’s called ‘creeping incrementalism’. Give a Liberal in inch he wants a foot, give a foot, he wants a yard. Give a yard he wants a mile. Ask for some of it back, he throws a hissy-fit, and calls you a greedy bastard.

            The best example is the gun control issue. That’s the one that popped into my head causing me to write this 2nd response.

            Me, I’m not like that. I want back all the stuff the Left has taken away over the course of my lifetime & before.

            This note is apropos of nothing in this discussion.

  • brian staver

    January 24, 2023 at 8:02 pm

    Republicans and right to life folks are all about stopping abortions but balk when it comes to supporting the mother and child after the birth. So, what should we do about supporting the mother and child when they cannot support themselves?

    • cassandra

      January 27, 2023 at 4:38 pm

      Forced-birthers don’t care about the mother or baby. And they never want to talk about the father!

  • cassandra

    January 27, 2023 at 4:20 pm

    Yes, Paul, I do remember your opinion from an earlier conversation. I appreciate hearing it again.

    It is frightening that many otherwise fairly normal appearing people actually believe they somehow have the right to dictate to another person that she cannot remove something (someone, for those who prefer) from her own uterus. I feel that anyone who can manage to justify this in their mind would be capable of pretty much any twisting of logic and morals.

  • Victoria

    January 28, 2023 at 12:02 pm

    Paul, it doesn’t matter what we believe or what “Jack” believes about any woman’s need for an abortion because of genetic abnormalities in the fetus or the reality that its father was her rapist. It is her decision.

    • Paul Passarelli

      January 29, 2023 at 12:24 am

      Did I ever say it wasn’t her decision? So tell me, is there *ANY* cutoff date that you would not consider a hardship?

      Are you arguing for 35 weeks? Why stop there? Why not 50? That covers the first 3 months of post partum depression. How about 150 weeks, so when the toddler takes off his diaper & smears it all over the expensive sofa, you’re still covered. Maybe 900 is a better number so when your 16-1/2 year old totals the family car, you can simply abort the child and tell the insurance company you have no idea how the car wrapped itself around that telephone pole.

      • cassandra

        January 30, 2023 at 6:19 pm

        Ahh, The Mythical Abortion-Loving Party Girl!!! Mascot of the lucrative Anti-Abortion Industry; Created for the sole purpose of turning public sentiment against women and the public’s dollars toward themselves. Because even a fantasy fetus is a great fundraiser. Yet their own website shows ZERO 3rd trimester abortions in Florida during 2021 (most recent year available). It’s just not happening.

        As for your question: It’s not about “hardship”. It is about the right to bodily integrity and autonomy which (morally, anyway), a woman does not give up upon becoming pregnant. The right is acquired at birth.

      • cassandra

        January 30, 2023 at 7:53 pm

        Reply to your comments of January 29, 2023 at 2:11 pm & 2:23 pm

        Paul, I agree that you are right to be concerned about gun control. I have always been very pro-gun rights, and consider it completely unacceptable for the government to remove or restrict (with extremely rare exceptions and as minimally as possible) any of our rights. I also see that the amount of gun violence taking place requires that something be done.

        Just talking about ‘mental health’ and ‘good guys’ is not working. Maybe it’s happening, but I am not hearing any prevention ideas coming from gun rights advocates. That would help. You know, though, who most gun control laws will be enforced against, right? It’s not you. It’s assorted Leftists, anti-fascists, a lot of other pinata smackers!

        I do know a little bit about conservatives! My parents were economic conservatives who tried hard to protect me from developing any socialist ideas. I clearly remember being very young in a grocery store with my mother, where I kept commenting that it certainly didn’t cost $1.00 to make this and $2.50 to make that. After a couple aisles of my ranting, my mother stopped in ‘frozen vegetables’, turned around and gave me a quite detailed lesson on profits, private property, and the dangers of regulations & taxes. She also warned me that socialism doesn’t make everyone equal; It just makes everyone poor. I, of course, saw right through her nonsense! (lol) Living peacefully in our house was made possible by her very liberal social beliefs and our shared pro- A1&2 views. I was, and remain, anti-government and anti-capitalist/private property. I just don’t know what to do about that!

        I hope you had a good weekend too Paul.

        • Paul Passarelli

          February 1, 2023 at 12:12 am

          Being anti-government is something I can understand. Being anti capitalist/private property is beyond my ability to comprehend.

          Without ownership there is no freedom. Without ownership every person is inexorably tied to every other person in the collective. If some choose to slack off then everyone suffers. The ones that excel will tire of their efforts & potential not being commensurately rewarded and they will curb their output for lack of incentive.

          The only wal no ownership makes sense is if people revert to nomadism. I’m not willing to go back to a stone-age level of comfort, are you?

          • cassandra

            February 2, 2023 at 1:08 am

            Not needing profits means some jobs will disappear, to be replaced by work that better serves the community. Worker self-management will improve working conditions and increase commitment to creating a better product or service. If someone did not wish to contribute anything I’m sure they would be expected to leave.

            Whatever else he may have written, this statement seems to support the idea that ‘Property is theft’: “The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said ‘This is mine’, and found people naïve enough to believe him….Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.”
            — Rousseau 1754

            Either way, no searching for nuts and berries for us, Paul!

Comments are closed.


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