Judge rules Florida’s 15-week abortion ban is unconstitutional

Florida judge rules 15-week abortion ban is unconstitutional



I’m gonna just give you the bottom line ruling now and then. I’m gonna tell you how I got there. MS for purposes of the order. Mhm. I’m finding that uh the statute in section I think it’s *** house bill five is unconstitutional and in that it violates the privacy provisions of the florida constitution And does not meet the standards of the three Florida Supreme Court cases that have interpreted the effect of that uh constitutional provisions and abortion in florida. Uh So I will be entering *** temporary injunction. It will be *** statewide temporary injunction will only be effective when I signed an order. So it will be not today. So I have made some notes and in the time I had and then there’s some other comments that I don’t have notes for. So uh florida passed into its constitution, an explicit right of privacy that is not contained in the U. S. Constitution. The florida. Supreme Court has determined in its words, quote, florida’s privacy provision is clearly implicated in *** woman’s decision of whether or not to continue her pregnancy. In other words, on the issue of abortion, the florida Supreme Court has decided that women have *** privacy right under the State Constitution to not have that Right impacted up to 24 weeks at least. Further. The part of Supreme Court has found, quote, if *** Legislative Act imposes *** significant restriction on *** woman’s right to seek an abortion, the act must further *** compelling state interest through the least intrusive means that’s the test of the florida Supreme Court here, the act effectively bans with extremely limited exceptions, pre viable abortions previously permitted under florida law. The florida court has held that the florida right of privacy is quote, much broader in scope in scope than that of the Federal Constitution. End, quote. In the in the case of T. W. Justice crimes in his concurring in part and dissenting. In part, decision wrote quote. If the United States Supreme Court were to subsequently received from roe versus wade, this would not diminish the abortion rights now provided by the privacy amendment of the florida constitution End, quote. In 2003, the Florida Supreme Court wrote, quote. Any comparison between the federal and florida rights of privacy is in opposite. In light of the fact that there is no express federal right of privacy cause. End, quote. The florida. Supreme Court has explicitly rejected the federal standard that required *** petitioner in this case. That would be the plaintiffs has rejected the standard that required the plaintiff to prove that *** regulation regarding abortion has the purpose of placing *** substantial obstacle in the path of *** woman seeking to assert her rights. Thus, the plaintiffs in this case do not have *** threshold requirement which by which they must show with facts and factual findings that the law imposes *** significant restriction on *** woman’s privacy rights. The defendants can see as the florida Supreme Court has held that HB five is subject to the Standard of review review, which the florida Supreme Court called strict scrutiny. Thus, per the Gainesville for the Supreme Court opinion. Any law that implicates the fundamental right of privacy, regardless of the activity, is subject to strict scrutiny and therefore is presumed to be unconstitutional in that case, the burden is on the defendant to prove that the law advances *** compelling state interest through the least restrictive means here. The asserted interest by the state as outlined in its argument today, are not legally sufficient to justify the statutory ban. I find the testimony of the plaintiff’s witnesses is more credible and rebut, rebuts that of the defendants witnesses. I uh generally agree with the position set forth by the plaintiff in the plaintiff’s reply memorandum and in the plaintiff’s oral argument. Today, I was prepared to go through it more detail, but I’m not sure in light of the time and length of time we’ve discussed these issues if that’s necessary. I think the um Pages 6, 3, 12 of the reply memo uh reflect many of these facts. I do find the state has failed to prove prove by convincing or credible evidence that this law. HB five exhibits *** compelling state interest to be protected. I accept and incorporate the findings of fact by the plaintiffs as I’ll give you *** more detail in pleadings and arguments. For example, this is an example of some of the findings of facts that I think are appropriate. I’m not requiring that they all be put in what I want to identify what I think has the evidence supports. And in the reply memo, I’ll just do this by paragraph number with some edits to *** couple of paragraphs. So in the reply memo, I’m looking at let me find, well, I think I’m just going to go through subject area and I will give you other factual references and witness declarations. But in the reply memo, The argument on page four deals with on the binding Florida Supreme Court president. The plaintiffs have established *** substantial likelihood of success on the merits, as I’ve indicated, and I agree generally with the Rationale used on pages four and 5, page six HB five ban does not advance but rather undermines maternal health. Page six. I agree with that. On pages 678, nine and part of 10, the states asserted interest in fetal pain is legally insufficient to satisfy strict scrutiny and and unsupported by the evidence. I’ll discuss that when I give you some more detail on how I weigh the experts testimony and um I accept that the memorandum, the reply memorandum up, two plaintiffs are entitled to facial to *** facial temporary injunction because there is no set of circumstances in which the state can constitutionally deny any pregnant person. The ability to effectuate her decision to have *** pre viability abortion. I also find that the plaintiffs have standing to assert the privacy rights as discussed in the reply memo, and as further articulated today in the argument by punish counsel, I find that this is *** proper facial challenge as articulated in the plaintiff’s reply memo. And in today’s argument, I find that the elements of temporary injunction is outlined in the reply memo and it’s discussed by plaintiff’s counsel today have been met the four elements, so I requested the point if contain the order contained that. Um now I’m going this will take me *** little bit more time, but I’m going to go through some of the notes here of address. Standing plaintiffs have demonstrated irreparable harm that the temporary injunction is in the public interest and that the injunction shall be statewide on the issues relating to science, the science and medicine of abortion. I find plaintiffs experts dr teen more ah knowledgeable and credible in her testimony better supported by scientific and medical literature as well as her extensive experience as *** medical doctor in the areas of maternal fetal medicine and obstetrics and gynecology that I do. The witnesses provided by the defendants dr conduct, who is testified as to the pain issue is not *** medical doctor and has no direct experience in counseling women on abortion or performing abortion procedures do not find dr convicts opinions as to the *** fetus being capable of feeling pain at less than 24 weeks is properly supported by the available scientific evidence. I find dr teen’s testimony that the earliest *** fetus can experience pain. Is that the uh generally at the 24 week plus weeks based LMP last menstrual cycle based on the fact that the brain is not sufficiently developed before then to make the feeling of pain possible, even if one dates the fetus feeling pain from the last menstrual cycle, doctor conduct With that two weeks to her 10 to 12 week period. If this is accepted as accurate, which I do not, it would mean that when in the 15th week of the new law, *** fetus would be able to feel and appreciate pain. Therefore eliminating the possibility of fetal pain. It cannot be an abiding state interest supporting the statute because it would still permit such pain based upon the expert testimony. I, however, do not accept that expert testimony is accurate or as being more credible than dr Teen’s testimony, which I do find is more credible and scientifically supported. The more persuasive and reasonable interpretation of the evidence would indicate that the ability to feel pain at the earliest begins in 24 weeks, which has previously already been established by state law as the cut off of the permissibility of an abortion because the fetus is considered to be viable at that point. Therefore, the fetus, the scientific evidence supports the conclusion that do the lack of brain development, fatal pain. Our ability to feel and recognize pain doesn’t start until approximately the 24 weeks or 24 plus weeks period. Therefore avoiding fetal pain cannot be *** valid basis for reducing The abortion period from 24 weeks to 15 weeks Dr conduct also testified that the fetus is aware of self is capable of self awareness and consciousness At somewhere between 14 and 20 weeks. Lmp. Which I do not find to be supported by the most persuasive evidence in this case again because of the lack of the brain development at that stage. As I recall the evidence, her opinions are contrary to those of the American College of Obstetricians and gynecologists. I believe also this is subject to verification. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists And the Authoritative Journal of American Medical Association article reference published in 2005. As to anesthesiology for fetal surgery. I reject the opinions by DR conduct that this is done to alleviate fetal pain, but I accept the explanation by Dr teen who has actual experience as *** team member for fetal surgeries as *** maternal fetal medicine specialist and Dr conduct does not have that I expect I except doctor teens explanation. Um Mhm. Also Dr Condit testified. This is in I think your testimony at page 268 in the case of planned Parenthood vs minor that in 18 weeks LMP last minstrel period. *** clear and ambiguous case would be difficult to make that we have neural circuitry in place for fetus to have *** conscious awareness of pain. Her contention in this testimony, that conscious awareness of pain will be possible with just the thalamus and without *** coral connection uh is not uh as persuasive as Dr teams testimony in the scientific sources she cites with respect to Dr scott, she is *** O. B. G. Y. N. 30 years practice and um she has never performed an abortion or participated as far as I know from her testimony in an abortion procedure. I’m not sure if she’s witnessed one or not that her testimony would have to be checked. But also her practice members of her practice when she was in private practice did not participate in abortions. She stated that she is not an expert in mental health evaluations or the mental health area, but part of her testimony relate to the mental health Dr Biggs provided *** detailed written response to dr scops opinions in regard to the abortion and mental health issues, those issues as they relate to each other. Dr. Biggs has *** PhD in psychology for over 20 years and is *** faculty member at the University of California San Francisco and has an incredible educational research and professional activities background is reflected by her CV. Which is incorporated into this order. She has extensive national and international experience service to professional publications, invited presentations In this country and internationally. She has 84 peer reviewed publications and three book chapters by reference, *** peer review publication as I understand, it is the highest rated professional publication for medical literature that exists. Her written statement which is her which has been admitted into evidence precisely precisely and persuasively rebuts the positions of dr scott on the mental health issues. Her analysis of the scientific literature is thorough and persuasive for that reason. Which is unusual for me. I adopt her statement admitted into record into the record and incorporated into this order. Her written declaration. The findings she makes in there in the analysis she makes plus the footnotes are the best evidence in this case in regard to mental health. And our so detailed is to be an example of the proper way to discuss scientific evidence and to rebut another person’s testimony with regard to scientific literature. Also, I find which I think I mentioned today in question when the state set The 24 week cut off day, the state of the quality of healthcare and of the procedure in question ah was not better than it is now. In fact, the evidence indicates that the medical procedure that we’ve discussed in procedures are better with fewer consequences, fewer risk and lower more mortality. That was the case in 1980. So With the risk of abortion before 24 weeks is low, very low in that set forth in DR teams testimony. I think she identifies the risk of mortality risk of abortions lower than some dental procedures. She didn’t specify which ones, but also of um colonoscopy and other procedures, even though there are risks with abortion, as there are with any medical procedure. The testimony of risk in this case is sufficient to impair the right of privacy with regard to this procedure, especially in the light of the fact, there’s no credible evidence that the risk have increased Since 1980. In fact, the risk have decreased since 1980.

Florida judge rules 15-week abortion ban is unconstitutional

Circuit Judge John Cooper announced Thursday he will be issuing a temporary injunctive order after determining the state’s 15-week abortion ban is unconstitutional. “Florida passed into its constitution an explicit right to privacy that is not contained in the U.S. Constitution,” he said.He ruled the new law, moving the deadline for women to terminate pregnancies from 24 weeks to 15 weeks, violated privacy rights in place in Florida since 1980.It was a blow to efforts by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican leadership. Watch the first part of Cooper’s statement below: His ruling followed closing arguments in which a deputy attorney general argued with an attorney representing Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and a women’s health physician with the state arguing the plaintiffs had no legal standing to fight the law because they are not protected by the privacy provision.”In our view, just like the plaintiffs have to show injury, in fact, the plaintiffs have to show they are irreparably harmed, not that someone else is irreparably harmed. And we think this is particularly important,” James Percival, deputy attorney general, said.”It’s not the case that there needs to be a showing that all women whether they are seeking abortions or not, or are pregnant or not, have their rights violated by the announcement of the law. The question is whether those to whom the law applies, whether all of their rights are violated,” ACLU Attorney Whitney White said.Cooper cited Section 23 of the state constitution, which states: “Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life except as otherwise provided herein.”He also said he found the plaintiff’s scientific research on abortion being medically safer than carrying a pregnancy to term persuasive. And he said the state’s witnesses were not credible. For example, Cooper regarded plaintiff and women’s health physician Shelly Tien’s testimony to be solid and convincing but not the state’s experts who tried to convince him a fetus can feel pain at 15 weeks and a woman who terminates pregnancy later is exposed to higher medical risk.”It’s not intended by me to be a criticism of defendant’s experts or a statement that I think they are trying to do something inappropriate or anything like that. It’s just this is how I weigh the evidence,” Cooper said.Several local and state lawmakers, including the governor, released comments about the ruling.”That was likely going to be what was decided in that case. We knew that we were going to have to move forward and continue the legal battle, and that’s something that was decided under state law,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Sanford Thursday. “These are unborn babies that have heartbeat. They can feel pain, they can suck their thumb, and to say that the state constitution mandates things like dismemberment abortions, I just don’t think that’s the proper way.””Today is an important victory for freedom across the Sunshine State and Florida’s constitutional right to privacy. The reproductive freedoms of Florida’s women stood strong in the face of Gov. DeSantis’s ongoing attempts to strip away their right to make decisions over their bodies,” Charlie Crist said. “I am grateful that Judge Cooper has ruled in favor of an injunction on House Bill 5, as he clearly understands the unconstitutionality of this 15-week abortion ban under Florida’s Right to Privacy clause. We know this victory will be short-lived as the state will no doubt appeal his decision, but it speaks to how critically important our right to privacy is in the Sunshine State, and how its protection expands to private decisions about a pregnancy,” Rep. Anna Eskamani said.Cooper’s official ruling will not go into effect until early next week, so the 15-week ban will be implemented from Friday through whenever the injunction is officially ordered. Cooper indicated he would formally make the ruling next Tuesday.Additionally, the state of Florida has vowed to immediately appeal the ruling.The bottom line is that Thursday’s ruling is a legal victory for Planned Parenthood and the ACLU but there are still legal battles ahead.

Circuit Judge John Cooper announced Thursday he will be issuing a temporary injunctive order after determining the state’s 15-week abortion ban is unconstitutional.

“Florida passed into its constitution an explicit right to privacy that is not contained in the U.S. Constitution,” he said.

He ruled the new law, moving the deadline for women to terminate pregnancies from 24 weeks to 15 weeks, violated privacy rights in place in Florida since 1980.

It was a blow to efforts by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican leadership.

Watch the first part of Cooper’s statement below:

His ruling followed closing arguments in which a deputy attorney general argued with an attorney representing Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and a women’s health physician with the state arguing the plaintiffs had no legal standing to fight the law because they are not protected by the privacy provision.

“In our view, just like the plaintiffs have to show injury, in fact, the plaintiffs have to show they are irreparably harmed, not that someone else is irreparably harmed. And we think this is particularly important,” James Percival, deputy attorney general, said.

“It’s not the case that there needs to be a showing that all women whether they are seeking abortions or not, or are pregnant or not, have their rights violated by the announcement of the law. The question is whether those to whom the law applies, whether all of their rights are violated,” ACLU Attorney Whitney White said.

Cooper cited Section 23 of the state constitution, which states: “Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life except as otherwise provided herein.”

He also said he found the plaintiff’s scientific research on abortion being medically safer than carrying a pregnancy to term persuasive. And he said the state’s witnesses were not credible.

For example, Cooper regarded plaintiff and women’s health physician Shelly Tien’s testimony to be solid and convincing but not the state’s experts who tried to convince him a fetus can feel pain at 15 weeks and a woman who terminates pregnancy later is exposed to higher medical risk.

“It’s not intended by me to be a criticism of defendant’s experts or a statement that I think they are trying to do something inappropriate or anything like that. It’s just this is how I weigh the evidence,” Cooper said.

Several local and state lawmakers, including the governor, released comments about the ruling.

“That was likely going to be what was decided in that case. We knew that we were going to have to move forward and continue the legal battle, and that’s something that was decided under state law,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Sanford Thursday. “These are unborn babies that have heartbeat. They can feel pain, they can suck their thumb, and to say that the state constitution mandates things like dismemberment abortions, I just don’t think that’s the proper way.”

“Today is an important victory for freedom across the Sunshine State and Florida’s constitutional right to privacy. The reproductive freedoms of Florida’s women stood strong in the face of Gov. DeSantis’s ongoing attempts to strip away their right to make decisions over their bodies,” Charlie Crist said.

“I am grateful that Judge Cooper has ruled in favor of an injunction on House Bill 5, as he clearly understands the unconstitutionality of this 15-week abortion ban under Florida’s Right to Privacy clause. We know this victory will be short-lived as the state will no doubt appeal his decision, but it speaks to how critically important our right to privacy is in the Sunshine State, and how its protection expands to private decisions about a pregnancy,” Rep. Anna Eskamani said.

Cooper’s official ruling will not go into effect until early next week, so the 15-week ban will be implemented from Friday through whenever the injunction is officially ordered. Cooper indicated he would formally make the ruling next Tuesday.

Additionally, the state of Florida has vowed to immediately appeal the ruling.

The bottom line is that Thursday’s ruling is a legal victory for Planned Parenthood and the ACLU but there are still legal battles ahead.

Leave a Comment