Hours before Florida abortion law took effect, a win for choice advocates

Just days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down onerous restrictions Texas imposed on abortion clinics, a federal judge blocked a new Florida law that would have cut public funding for Planned Parenthood and restricted access to health services for women.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued an injunction late Thursday, hours before the law was due to take effect.

Planned Parenthood argued to Hinkle the day before, arguing that parts of the law were unconstitutional. Hinkle then found that state lawmakers could not deny money for services that are legally protected.

"No court has embraced the defendants' position. And there is no logic to it,” Hinkle wrote in the preliminary injunction, according to NPR. “That a woman has a constitutional right to an abortion does not mean a legislature can impose otherwise-unconstitutional conditions on public funding."

Hinkle put on hold parts of the law that Gov. Rick Scott signed into law earlier this year, including one that blocks clinics from receiving $500,000 to pay for HIV testing, cancer screenings and a school dropout program in Palm Beach County.

He also blocked the portion that required half of all abortion records in Florida to be inspected by state regulators every year, which Planned Parenthood estimated would be about 35,000 people per year.

Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida President and CEO Barbara Zdravecky praised the ruling.

“Today’s ruling should be hailed by all Floridians, but especially the thousands of men and women across the state who would have been cut off from access to reproductive health care including cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and more had HB 1411 been allowed to stand,” said Zdravecky, according to The Miami Herald.

Hinkle’s decision follows a Texas law that was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court Monday. The controversial law required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

The court overturned the law, ruling that it violated the Constitution. However, Hinkle did not address the ruling Thursday.

Hinkle’s injunction puts the two parts of the law on hold until he issues a full ruling on the constitutionality of the law, unless a higher court overturns his decision. Hinkle wrote in the opinion that he expects the law to be ruled unconstitutional.

Florida Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner agreed with Hinkle’s decision, calling it “the right one”.

“The legislation passed this year in Florida was never about lax safety standards, or protecting women’s health, or any other purported intent. It was solely about defunding clinics such as Planned Parenthood in a quest to impose a conservative agenda and erode women’s constitutional rights affirmed under Roe v Wade,” said Joyner, who represents Tampa, in a press release. “This law is directly aimed at basic freedoms women are guaranteed, and no amount of euphemistic arguments by its supporters could disguise its true intent.”

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