Florida Appeals Court Rules Law Banning Abortions After 15 Weeks Can Keep Saving Babies

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 25, 2022   |   3:00PM   |   Tallahassee, Florida

A Florida appeals court has ruled that a state law banning abortions after 15 weeks can stay in force and continue saving babies from late abortions.

This summer, a Florida judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of a 15-week abortion ban Governor Ron DeSantis signed to save babies from abortions. Less than an hour after the judge blocked the ban, DeSantis appealed the order. His appeal automatically nullified the order and the law is now in effect as the case continues. For now, that means that House Bill 5, which DeSantis signed into law in April, remains the law in Florida and can save babies from abortions.

Now, the First District Court of Appeal reversed the judge’s temporary injunction that would have blocked the new pro-life law.

The one-paragraph order written by Judge Brad Thomas and joined by Judge Stephanie Ray states, “On July 21, 2022, the Court ‘direct[ed] the parties within fifteen days to provide any further briefing or arguments for our consideration, before the court disposes of the appeal of the nonfinal order granting the temporary injunction.’ State v. Planned Parenthood of Sw. & Cent. Fla…. The parties have failed to provide further briefing or argument. Accordingly, the non-final order granting the temporary injunction is reversed as Appellees could not assert irreparable harm on behalf of persons not appearing below.”

The Court also signaled last month that it would reject the temporary injunction issued by Judge Cooper. The appeals court’s July 21 decision kept the stay in place, while also making clear that the panel likely would reject the underlying temporary injunction. A key issue has been whether the plaintiffs could show “irreparable harm” from the near-total ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

In last month’s decision, Judge Thomas wrote that “a temporary injunction cannot be issued absent a showing of irreparable harm. As to appellees (the abortion clinics and doctor) themselves, any loss of income from the operation of the law cannot provide a basis for a finding of irreparable harm as a matter of law. And the parties do not dispute that the operation of the law will not affect the majority of provided abortions.”

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In his original ruling, the lower Judge John Cooper acknowledged the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe in the Dobbs case but noted that the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that the privacy clause in the state’s constitution can be used to justify overturning pro-life laws. Critics note the clause was adopted prior to roe v. Wade, says nothing about abortion and has been misused to allow an unlimited “right” to abortion when the intention of the clause was to value privacy from government intrusion.

When DeSantis signed the law, he called it a celebration of life.

“We’re here today to protect life,” Governor DeSantis said at a large ceremony to sign the bill back in April. “We’re here today to defend those who can’t defend themselves.”

When DeSantis signed the law, the governor said the bill “protects the rights of unborn children starting at 15 weeks. This is a time where these babies have beating hearts. They can move, they can taste, they can see, they can feel pain, they can suck their thumb, and they have brain waves.”

“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,” he said.

“So this will represent the most significant protections for life that have been enacted in this state in a generation.”

The legislation, which would have gone into effect today, bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions if the mother’s life is at risk or the unborn baby has a fatal disorder. It also includes measures to reduce infant mortality and a requirement that abortion facilities report suspected human trafficking cases to the state.

As LifeNews reported, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, with a 6-3 majority ruling in the Dobbs case that “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion” — allowing states to ban abortions and protect unborn babies. The high court also ruled 6-3 uphold the Mississippi 15-week abortion ban so states can further limit abortions and to get rid of the false viability standard.

Chief Justice John Roberts technically voted for the judgment but, in his concurring opinion, disagreed with the reasoning and said he wanted to keep abortions legal but with a new standard.

Texas and Oklahoma had banned abortions before Roe was overturned and Missouri became the first state after Roe to protect babies from abortions and South Dakota became the 2nd. Then Arkansas became the third state protecting babies from abortions and Kentucky became the 4th and Louisiana became the 5th and Ohio became the 6th and Utah became the 7th and Oklahoma became the 8th and Alabama became the 9th. This week, Mississippi became the 10th and South Carolina became the 11th,Texas became the 12th with its pre-Roe law and Tennessee became the 13th.

Michigan, Wisconsin and West Virginia have old pro-life laws on the books but there is question about whether they are applicable and will be enforced.

Ultimately, as many as 26 states could immediately or quickly ban abortions and protect babies from certain death for the first time in nearly 50 years.

The 13 total states with trigger laws that would effectively ban all or most abortions are: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

“Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives,” Alito wrote.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences,” Alito wrote. “And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”

Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer authored a joint dissent condemning the decision as enabling states to enact “draconian” restrictions on women.

Polls show Americans are pro-life on abortion and a new national poll shows 75% of Americans essentially agree with the Supreme Court overturning Roe.

Despite false reports that abortion bans would prevent doctors from treating pregnant women for miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, pro-life doctors confirm that is not the case. Some 35 states have laws making it clear that miscarriage is not abortion and every state with an abortion ban allows treatment for both.