Florida urges appeals court to leave abortion ban in place as lawsuit works through courts

click to enlarge Florida urges appeals court to leave abortion ban in place as lawsuit works through courts
Dave Decker

Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office Thursday argued that a new law preventing abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy should remain in effect during a legal fight and that the case should move quickly to the Florida Supreme Court.

Lawyers in Moody’s office filed a 28-page response at the 1st District Court of Appeal, a day after abortion clinics and a physician asked the court to put the law on hold. The state’s response pointed to “public interests” that the law protects.

“That law safeguards maternal health, in part by encouraging women to avoid the increased health risks that accompany later-term abortions,” the response said. “It also shields unborn children from pain.”

Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper on July 5 issued a temporary injunction to block the law, agreeing with the abortion clinics and physician that it violated a privacy clause in the Florida Constitution. The state, however, immediately appealed, which triggered an automatic stay of the injunction — effectively meaning that the law remained in effect during the appeal.

The plaintiffs asked Cooper to vacate the stay, a move that would have put the law on hold. But Cooper on Tuesday denied the request, leading to the plaintiffs asking the appeals court Wednesday to vacate the stay.

While arguing that the stay should remain in place, Moody’s office Thursday reiterated arguments that the appeals court should fast-track the case to the Florida Supreme Court.

“This (appeals) court should not rule on plaintiffs’ motion to vacate the stay,” the response said. “Instead, it should expeditiously certify this case for immediate resolution by the Florida Supreme Court. If this (appeals) court rules on plaintiffs’ motion, however, then the motion should be denied.”

The plaintiffs have objected to sending the case quickly to the Supreme Court and largely bypassing the appeals court.
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