Florida Supreme Court agrees to hear challenge to ban on abortions after the 15th week but rejects plaintiffs request for a stay of a ruling that keeps law in place

By Dave Andrusko

The Florida Supreme Court agreed Monday to take up a legal challenge to Florida’s 15-week abortion ban. But, in a 4-1 decision, the justices rejected a motion by seven abortion clinics and an abortionist for a stay of a ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeal that kept the “Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act” (House Bill 5) in place.

“At a minimum, the decision will keep the law in effect until the Supreme Court can rule on underlying issues in the case,” Jim Sanders wrote. “The decision and a similar 4-1 ruling Monday on another issue involving a stay came about five months after the 1st District Court of Appeal tossed out a temporary injunction issued by Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper, who said the 15-week limit violated the privacy clause in the Constitution.”

The appeals court ruled the plaintiffs could not show “irreparable harm” from the 15-week limit. They refused to lift the automatic stay and subsequently rejected Cooper’s temporary injunction.

When he signed HB 5 into law on April 14, Gov. Ron DeSantis said, “It’s a statement of our values that every life is important.”  Gov. DeSantis added

“Life is a sacred gift worthy of our protection, and I am proud to sign this great piece of legislation which represents the most significant protections for life in the state’s modern history.”

At 15 weeks, ”these babies have beating hearts. They can move. They can taste.” DeSantis went on to say. “We are here today to protect life. We are here today to defend those who can’t defend themselves.”

When they filed their motion for a stay on August 31,the plaintiffs argued that the 1st District Court of Appeal had not followed precedents. Attorneys for the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the national law firm of Jenner & Block said “whether to carry a pregnancy to term or obtain a pre-viability abortion — [is]a right that this (Supreme) Court has repeatedly recognized is encompassed by the Florida Constitution’s right of privacy.”

In rebuttal, in September, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody not only urged the state Supreme Court to reject the motion for a stay, she also said the privacy clause doesn’t apply to abortion. According to reporter Saunders

“Florida’s Privacy Clause creates a right ‘to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life,’” lawyers in Moody’s office wrote in one filing. “That language is naturally read to limit governmental snooping and information-gathering — but not to establish a liberty to destroy unborn (or any other) life.”

The Supreme Court’s one-paragraph ruling came the day after the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the appearance of pro-abortion Vice President Kamala Harris in Tallahassee.