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State abortion bans blocked by judges in Florida, Kentucky

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June 30 (Reuters) – Judges in Florida and Kentucky decided Thursday to ban those states from imposing abortion bans or restrictions after the U.S. Supreme Court last week overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a nationwide right to abortion. .

In Tallahassee, Florida, Circuit Court judge John Cooper said he would grant a petition from abortion rights groups to temporarily suspend a state law that would ban abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.

In Kentucky, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Mitch Perry issued a temporary restraining order, preventing the state from enforcing a ban passed in 2019 following the Supreme Court decision.

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The decisions in Florida and Kentucky came amid a spate of lawsuits by abortion rights groups seeking to preserve people’s ability to terminate pregnancies, following Friday’s landmark Supreme Court ruling with a conservative majority.

That ruling gave states the power to refuse, restrict or allow abortions. On Thursday, the Supreme Court overruled lower federal court rulings that invalidated abortion limits in Arizona, Arkansas and Indiana on the basis of Roe. read more

Bans and restrictions are now taking effect or are poised to do so in 22 states, including 13 such as Kentucky with so-called “trigger” laws designed to take effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights advocacy research group. read more

State courts in Texas, Louisiana and Utah have also temporarily blocked bans in those states as of last week, and abortion providers are seeking similar relief in states like Idaho, Ohio, Mississippi and West Virginia.

The bans have given clinics time to continue providing services.

“Delay still saves lives,” said Seema Mohapatra, a professor of health law at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “The longer safe and accessible abortion is available in those states, the more pregnant people seeking abortion care will be helped.”

In the long run, however, abortion rights advocates have big problems. The highest courts in many of those states are dominated by conservative or Republican judges who may be more sympathetic to restrictions on abortion access.

Texas attorney Ken Paxton, a staunch conservative, on Thursday asked the all-Republican-appointed state Supreme Court to overturn Tuesday’s order by a judge blocking enforcement of the pre-Roe-criminal abortion bans.

FLORIDA’S BAN MUST BE DISABLED

The Florida 15-week abortion ban, signed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis in April, was set to go into effect Friday. The law mirrors Mississippi law at the heart of the Supreme Court case overturning Roe.

Siding with Planned Parenthood affiliates and other Florida abortion providers, Circuit Court Judge John Cooper concluded that the law violates the privacy rights of the state constitution, which the state’s Supreme Court says covers the right to abortion.

State law had previously restricted abortions beyond 24 weeks.

Cooper said his decision won’t take effect until he signs a written warrant, which is likely not until Tuesday or later.

A spokesman for Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody, a Republican, said the state will appeal. The case could eventually reach the Florida Supreme Court, whose composition has changed to now include all Republican-appointed judges.

Only about one-fifth of state supreme courts have recognized the right to abortion, independent of Roe v. Wade. The Iowa Supreme Court reversed itself earlier this month by finding that the state’s constitution contains no “fundamental right” to abortion.

In Kentucky, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Mitch Perry sided with two abortion clinics, including an affiliate of Planned Parenthood. The clinics had challenged a trigger ban and another law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy before some people know they are pregnant.

Abortion services had been halted in Kentucky since Friday, when the Supreme Court cleared the way for states to issue new bans. The Kentucky ban only allows abortion to protect people from death or serious injury.

“We are pleased that the court has recognized the devastation in Kentucky and has decided to block the Commonwealth’s brutal abortion bans,” Planned Parenthood said in a statement.

However, the decision is temporary and a new hearing is scheduled for Wednesday at the clinics’ request for a ban to block enforcement of the laws.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, immediately asked an appeals court to defer Perry’s order because the judge had no ground under the Kentucky Constitution to allow clinics to perform abortions. resume.

“We cannot allow the same mistake made in Roe v. Wade nearly 50 years ago to be made again in Kentucky,” he said.

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Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston and Joseph Ax in Princeton, New Jersey; adaptation by Colleen Jenkins, Jonathan Oatis and Josie Kao

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Nate Raymond

Thomson Reuters

Nate Raymond reports on the federal judiciary and litigation. He can be reached at [email protected]

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