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Judge will rule from the bench on Florida’s ban on abortions after the 15th week, scheduled to go into effect Friday

by | Jun 28, 2022

By Dave Andrusko

Circuit Judge John Cooper has indicated he will rule on Thursday on a lawsuit challenging Florida’s ban on abortion performed after the 15th week. The law is scheduled to go into effect on Friday. Several abortion clinics and an abortionist filed a lawsuit June 1 in Leon County circuit court challenging the new Florida law, seeking a temporary injunction.

“We are here today to defend those who can’t defend themselves,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis when he signed HB 5. Surrounded by lawmakers, pro-life advocates, and children, he added, “This will represent the most significant protections for life that we have seen in a generation.”

The bill, signed on April 14, came just days after Leon County Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey upheld a 24-hour waiting period, a law passed way back in 2015. “Twenty-six other states have similar restrictions, some of which have been in effect for many years,” she wrote, “Moreover, plaintiffs can point to no evidence that these laws have prevented any women — let alone all women — who desire an abortion from obtaining one.”

Given the tone of Judge Cooper’s questioning, he is not receptive to the state’s arguments.

Last Friday, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. In their 5-1-3 ruling, “justices also upheld Mississippi’s 15-week abortion limit, which is identical to the Florida law about to take effect,” John Kennedy explained.

However, in 1980 voters approved a privacy measure which states a resident has the “right to be let alone and free from government intrusion into his private life.” In 1989 “The Florida Supreme Court interpreted that to include within one’s right to privacy, a right to terminate a pregnancy, a right to abortion,” according to Stetson University law professor Louis Virelli.

 “As the Florida Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized, this broad right to privacy includes a woman’s right to decide to terminate a pregnancy,” an introductory part of the lawsuit said.

Writing for WFSU News, Regan McCarthy outlined key testimony offered yesterday: For example,

Maureen Condic, a professor of neurobiology at the University of Utah, testified that life begins essentially at the moment of conception and that fetuses are capable of feeling pain Condic was asked by an attorney for the plaintiffs if she would describe herself as pro-life. 

“I would characterize myself as a scientist,” Condic said. “And the scientific evidence has led me to conclude that a human being exists from sperm-egg fusion and is capable of pain experience. Those two conclusions have led me to a position that protecting that life is an important interest.” 

Cooper interrupted a line of questioning by an attorney for the state, in which Condic was being asked when life begins. Condic was in the middle of answering, saying that life begins upon “sperm-egg fusion.” 

“I’m not here to litigate abortion, I’m here to litigate the right to privacy in Florida. I’m not here to litigate Roe v. Wade,” Cooper said. 

However, the composition of the Florida Supreme Court has changed dramatically. Three of seven-member state Supreme Court are DeSantis appointees and “all appointed by Republican governors,” Kennedy reported.

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