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Judge halts Florida’s new abortion law

In a stinging defeat for Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Florida judge said he will temporarily block a new law that would prohibit all abortions in the state after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The law, which provides no exceptions for victims of rape, incest or human trafficking, was approved by the Republican-led Legislature and signed into law by DeSantis in April.

The judge’s decision comes as the nation grapples with how to move forward with reproductive rights in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

Planned Parenthood of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state earlier this month to stop the law, claiming it violates an amendment in the state Constitution that bars the government from intruding on people’s personal lives.

That privacy amendment had been cited by the state Supreme Court in overturning previous restrictive abortion laws, including one requiring parental consent for minors seeking abortions. The makeup of the Florida Supreme Court, however, has shifted to the right in recent and abortions rights advocates fear the conservative-majority state high court could interpret that privacy right differently.

Last year, almost 80,000 women received abortions in Florida from one of the 55 providers. Thousands of women also travel to Florida for abortions, including from neighboring Alabama and Georgia. In 2021, more than 4,800 women from out of state received abortions in Florida, the third-most populous state in the nation. Only New York and Illinois have higher rates of abortion.

Florida’s abortion law is modeled on Mississippi’s, which bans the procedure at 15 weeks and was at the heart of the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning the landmark 1973 Roe decision. After the Supreme Court struck down Roe, DeSantis praised the ruling and stated he will “will work to expand pro-life protections” but did not provide details.

Before Florida lawmakers approved the ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, the state prohibited abortions after 24 weeks.