DeSantis vows to ‘continue legal battle’ after judge blocks Florida’s 15-week abortion ban

Leon County judge granted injunction against the law, which goes into effect July 1

Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed to continue fighting for abortion restrictions in Florida after a Leon County judge ruled that a 15-week limitation on abortions would violate the state's constitution.

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis went on the offensive Thursday afternoon in support of Florida’s 15-week abortion ban hours after a judge ruled he would block the restriction on reproductive rights in the state.

“We did have a ruling in Tallahassee effectively enjoining the bill that we provided — that I signed — to provide protections for unborn babies at 15 weeks,” the governor said. “We knew that that was likely going to be what was decided in that case.”

Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper ruled earlier in the day that the 15-week ban violates Florida’s constitution. The ban, set to go into effect Friday, will be blocked once the injunction is formally filed.

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“We knew that we were going to have to move forward and continue the legal battle on that,” DeSantis said. “So it was not unanticipated. It was not, of course, something that we were happy to see.”

Those challenging the law argue it violates the state constitution, amended by Florida voters in 1980 to guarantee “broad protections for individual privacy rights — including abortion,” the groups said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis went on the offensive Thursday afternoon in support of Florida’s 15-week abortion ban hours after a judge ruled he would block the restriction on reproductive rights in the state.

The clause can be found in Section 23 of the state constitution. It reads, in full:

“Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life except as otherwise provided herein. This section shall not be construed to limit the public’s right of access to public records and meetings as provided by law.”

The Florida Supreme Court first ruled on the issue in October 1989 in the case of a law requiring teenage girls to get a parent’s consent before having an abortion. The 1989 ruling said that the imposition of restrictions on abortion constituted an intrusion into a woman’s personal life.

‘’Florida’s privacy provision is clearly implicated in a woman’s decision of whether or not to continue her pregnancy,’’ the opinion said. ‘’We can conceive of few more personal or private decisions concerning one’s body that one can make in a lifetime, except perhaps the decision of the terminally ill in their choice of whether to discontinue necessary medical treatment.’’

Dr. Cecilia Grande, an OBGYN in southern Florida, told News 6 that issues could arise if the state considers unborn babies to be alive, as mothers — the “incubator,” as she called them — may need to receive emergency services involving stillbirths or miscarriages.

“A patient comes in with a pregnancy that’s wanted but broker her water at 18 weeks, and we have a 15-week ban. What’s going to happen?” she said. “In medical school, you are taught that life begins when the baby comes out and can be on its own. Before that, the mom is the incubator. If mom dies, baby died.”

Grande said that with the potential abortion restrictions, she was concerned women wouldn’t be aware of an issue with the pregnancy until it’s too late.

“I fear what happens if I get a patient, and my patient shows up in the emergency room, and they are having a miscarriage, and they are passed 15 weeks,” she said. “Am I going to be investigated?”

Despite the precedent, the governor believes the 15-week ban should stand.

“I just don’t think that’s the proper interpretation (of the state’s constitution),” DeSantis said.

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About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.