Advocates for reproductive rights and some Florida lawmakers gather at the Old Capitol building steps to rally against limitations on abortion access. Sept. 21, 2021. Credit: Danielle J. Brown
Less than two months after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, Florida health care providers have filed a lawsuit against the measure.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Leon County Circuit Court in Tallahassee, want to block the ban that goes into effect July 1.
The law has caused an upset among reproductive rights activists, and the lawsuit claims that HB 5, the piece of legislation that was approved this spring by the Legislature, violates protections under the Florida Constitution.
“Despite Florida’s history of protecting the right to abortion, the Florida legislature recently engaged in a brazen attempt to override the will of the Florida people. The legislature passed House Bill 5, a law that criminalizes pre-viability abortions in direct violation of Floridians’ fundamental privacy rights guaranteed by the Florida Constitution,” the lawsuit states.
In addition, “By banning the provision of abortion care after fifteen weeks LMP, (last menstrual period) the Act will unlawfully intrude upon the fundamental privacy rights of Florida women. It will deny Floridians’ autonomy over their own bodies and undermine their ability to make deeply personal decisions about their lives, families, and health care free of government interference.”
The lawsuit clarifies that “Plaintiffs at times refer to ‘woman’ or ‘women’ herein when referring to patients seeking abortion care, but recognize that people of all gender identities, including transgender men and gender-diverse individuals, may also become pregnant and seek abortion services, and would thus also suffer irreparable harm under HB 5.”
The Florida Legislature approved the 15-week ban during the 2022 regular session, with most Democrats in opposition. Abortion rights groups and others came to protest at the Capitol to oppose the ban, but lawmakers approved the measure.
The lawsuit comes at a time when the nation is waiting on an official ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court related to a Mississippi 15-abortion ban, after a leaked draft opinion indicated that the high court could overturn the landmark case of Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion nearly 50 years ago.
In Tallahassee, the plaintiffs are represented by lawyers from big advocacy groups. Those are: the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Florida, Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and law firm Jenner & Block, according to a Wednesday press release.
The defendants include Florida Surgeon General Joe Ladapo and the Florida Department of Health, the Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and several Florida state attorneys.
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