- Plaintiffs representing abortion clinics requested that the 1st District Court of Appeals place a hold on Florida 15-week abortion law
- The law was deemed unconstitutional in late June before being appealed by the state, effectively validating the law
- Plaintiffs cite “irreparable harm” should the law be enforceable throughout the appeals process
Attorneys representing abortion clinics on Wednesday sought the 1st District Court of Appeal to place a hold on Florida’s recently-administered 15-week abortion law. The request is submitted less than 24 hours after a Leon County circuit judge rejected a similar motion.
In April, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 5 (HB 5) into law, banning abortion beyond the 15th week of pregnancy, thereby prohibiting late-term abortions in the state. In late June, Leon County Judge John Cooper declared the law unconstitutional, claiming that it violates the state constitution’s privacy clause and “does not satisfy the threshold” of Florida Supreme Court decisions upholding the state’s legal right to abortion. Cooper’s decision was predicated on a section of the state constitution that includes a defined right to privacy, while the clause does not specifically reference abortion.
“Florida passed into its constitution an explicit right of privacy that is not contained in the U.S. Constitution,” Cooper said. “The Florida Supreme Court has determined in its words ‘Florida’s privacy provision is clearly implicated in a woman’s decision on whether or not to continue her pregnancy,” Cooper said. “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.”
According to News Service of Florida, attorneys requesting a stay of the statute cited “irreparable harm” if the 15-week restriction remains in force while the appeal is pending.
“If this court does not vacate the stay, abortions after 15 weeks will be banned throughout Florida, violating Floridians’ constitutional rights and irreparably harming plaintiffs and their patients,” Wednesday’s motion said. “The equities here thus clearly demand vacating the stay.”
The state of Florida filed an appeal against the verdict last week, signaling that the abortion ban is still in effect and may be implemented.
“Notice is hereby given that all Defendants … appeal the court’s order entering a temporary injunction and all related rulings,” the notice of appeal reads. “Pursuant to Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure, the filing of this notice results in an automatic stay of the court’s order, and the challenged law is now in effect.”
Opponents of the law contend that an excerpt from Article I, Section 23, stating “Every natural person has the right to be left alone and free from governmental intervention into the individual’s private life, save as otherwise specified herein.” Cooper stated in his decision that the state Constitution “contains a written right to privacy.”