A federal judge blocked a Florida law from taking effect on Friday that would have blocked Planned Parenthood from receiving taxpayer dollars and required more accountability from abortion facilities.
The ruling came as little surprise after U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle came down hard against the state law during a hearing earlier this week and reportedly “grilled” state attorneys who were defending the law in a “heated exchange.”
The Florida law, which defunds Planned Parenthood and requires more rigorous state inspections of abortion clinics, was scheduled to go into effect Friday; but Hinkle blocked it in a ruling on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
“The Supreme Court has repeatedly said that a government cannot prohibit indirectly — by withholding otherwise-available public funds — conduct that the government could not constitutionally prohibit directly,” Hinkle wrote in his decision.
He continued that the law is “based not on any objection to how the funds are being spent … but solely because the recipients of the funds choose to provide abortions separate and apart from any public funding.”
According to reports, Hinkle did allow one provision in the law to take effect: a section that redefines the dates of gestation and pregnancy trimesters. Planned Parenthood, which is challenging the entire law in a lawsuit, claimed that the measure was just another attempt to limit abortions, but Hinkle disagreed.
Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against the law after Gov. Rick Scott signed it in March. The law would strip the abortion business of about $500,000 in taxpayer dollars each year, according to the Palm Beach Post.
The Florida legislation would redirect the tax dollars to other non-abortion community health centers, ensuring that women will have access to basic health services. Community health centers, which offer comprehensive health care to women and families, outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities by 20 to one.
Like many other pieces of legislation introduced across the U.S. in recent months, the legislation came in response to a series of undercover videos showing the Planned Parenthood abortion business selling aborted babies’ body parts.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office did not comment yet about whether it will appeal the decision, according to the Miami Herald.
The Thursday ruling puts the law on temporary hold while the case proceeds in court.
Before the bill passed, state Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, emphasized how Florida citizens’ taxpayer dollars are funding abortions.
“We pay their light bill, we pay their salaries, we pay all kinds of things when the state contracts with these clinics,” Bean said. “Let’s get Florida out of the abortion business.”
When the legislation passed in March, state Sen. Kelli Stargel, who sponsored the legislation, said the legislation is meant to ensure women receive quality care.
“It is not a bill that restricts a woman’s right to choose … It’s getting the same level of care that she would have if she walked into any other clinic,” Stargel said.
Planned Parenthood has 22 locations in Florida, including 15 that do abortions. All of the locations refer for abortions.