By Nancy Flanders
A judge in Miami has denied a request to temporarily block Florida’s law protecting most children from abortion after 15 weeks. HB 5, or the Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality bill, was passed by pro-life legislators in Florida in July. Despite this, abortions in the state increased in 2022.
The ruling comes after seven clergy members, including Rabbi Gayle Pomerantz, sought the injunction out of a supposed fear that under the law they will be criminally prosecuted if they advise their congregants to have an abortion or accompany them to one. They also claimed that the law violates their religious freedom and speech and that it was too vague.
“The plaintiffs in these consolidated actions are under no immediate and ongoing risk of prosecution,” Judge Michael Hanzman said in his ruling. He added, “The court finds these particular plaintiffs do not face any threat of prosecution, let alone a credible one.”
Pomerantz responded to the ruling by saying, “I think the judge ruled on just one aspect of the motion and not in its entirety. I think that the bill challenges our constitutional rights. It challenges separation of church and state.” She said the bill “[does] not address if we take someone for a procedure.” It appears she wants protection for herself if she helps someone to undergo an illegal abortion.
Originally, five clergy members filed separate lawsuits against the law in August. Those lawsuits have now been consolidated into one case, and that case can proceed forward; however, Hanzman’s ruling ensures the law will not be blocked in the meantime. Arguments in the case are expected to be heard this summer.
“We have seven clients with seven different belief systems and for each of them, they sincerely believe that there is a burden now on their faith that is so much heavier than before,” said plaintiffs’ attorney, Marci Hamilton.
Rabbi Jason Rosenberg, who joined the lawsuit in August as an individual and not on behalf of the temple, argued, “… Jewish law is very clear: abortions are allowed, and possibly even mandated, in some situations well after 15 weeks.” (emphasis added)
While Rosenberg appears ready to force his congregants to undergo abortions, Cecily Routman, MSW, president of the Jewish Pro-Life Foundation, argues that abortion violates all Jewish ethics and morals.