In a blow to the pro-abortion lobby in its pursuit of striking down Florida’s new 15-week abortion ban, the Florida Supreme Court has denied a request to temporarily block the law while it prepares to hear legal arguments challenging the law’s constitutionality.
House Bill 5 (HB 5), titled the “Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act,” was passed by the Florida Legislature in 2022 and prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for the life of the mother or risk of irreversible physical impairment, and for fatal fetal abnormalities.
The law was immediately challenged in court by the ACLU of Florida and other pro-abortion organizations and abortion sellers as allegedly violating the Florida Constitution’s guarantee of privacy.
Since then, a trial court judge blocked the law by issuing a temporary injunction, but a state appeals court reversed that order. That led the ACLU to ask the Florida Supreme Court to reinstate the temporary injunction, called a “stay.”
In a 4-1 ruling, the justices rejected the request for a stay, accepted the case for consideration and set a short briefing schedule that should lead to oral arguments being heard in the next few months. The lone dissenter, Justice Jorge Labarga, who was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court by former Governor Charlie Crist, would have granted a stay blocking the law from taking effect until the court could hear and decide the abortionists’ appeal.
The Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC), an ally of Focus on the Family, called the high court’s decision a victory in a tweet:
“VICTORY: Florida Supreme Court holds that Florida’s law protecting unborn children after 15 weeks will continue to be enforced. The one-paragraph decision did not detail the court’s reasoning,” FFPC said.
The ACLU’s attorney, Whitney White, reacted to the state supreme court’s ruling in a press release.
“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,” White said. “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 ACLU’s legal strategy of justifying abortion under a state constitutional guarantee of privacy has become the standard operating practice by the abortion industry since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June. On January 9, for example, the South Carolina Supreme Court struck down that state’s six-week abortion ban applying that reasoning.
The issue whether an explicit or implicit state constitutional right of “privacy” covers abortion is unclear in many states and is ripe for clarification by voters.
Four states – Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and West Virginia – have passed a state constitutional amendment explicitly declaring that their constitution does not secure or protect the right to abortion or allow use of public funds for abortion. California, Michigan and Vermont voters have recently approved state constitutional amendments that guarantee the right to abortion.
In 1989, Florida’s Supreme Court interpreted the state constitution to guarantee the right to abortion. That court has, however, shifted to a more conservative and constitutionalist judicial philosophy in recent years due to new justices being appointed, so it remains to be seen how the current court will address the right of privacy issue in this case.
And for the time being, and until the Florida Supreme Court rules in this case, babies are being saved in The Sunshine State because of the new law, and that’s a good thing.
The case is Planned Parenthood v. Florida.
Photo from Shutterstock.