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Battle over 15-week abortion ban in Florida continues in court

The legal back and forth over the state's 15-week abortion ban is headed back to the judge who ruled on the lawsuit last week.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The abortion battle is far from over in Florida. The case seeking to block the state's new 15-week abortion ban is heading back to the judge who originally blocked it.

The judge's ruling Thursday came after Planned Parenthood and other clinics, including one in Jacksonville, sued the state to stop the ban. Ever since, the battle over the ban ahs been a constant back and forth.

Leon County Judge John Cooper ruled Thursday the ban should be blocked because it violates the right to privacy, which is specifically guaranteed by Florida's Constitution. The 15-week ban took effect Friday anyway, though, because Cooper hadn't signed a written order.

He signed the order Tuesday, blocking the law, but the state immediately appealed the ruling. That automatically put the judge's ruling on hold, and reinstated the 15-week ban on abortion.

The plaintiffs responded immediately and filed an emergency motion Tuesday asking Cooper to get rid of the hold.

Jacksonville attorney Neil Henrichsen, who's not affiliated with the lawsuit, said even if the judge grants the plaintiffs' request, that order can be appealed. The First District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee will hear the appeals, and could reverse Cooper's decision. 

"For both women who are seeking medical services and for providers, it creates great uncertainty," Henrichsen said. 

"For providers who have criminal liability, if they get the timing wrong, they can be criminally prosecuted," he said.

Henrichsen said it's up to the state attorney for each jurisdiction to choose how to enforce the 15-week ban as it plays out in the courts. First Coast News reached out to State Attorney Melissa Nelson's office and asked about their intentions as this case plays out in the courts and FCN is waiting to hear back. 

"I think what you have is a difficulty of providers knowing what's legal or not, and people who are patients who don't know if they're going to be able to get the medical services they need here in Florida, and might have to travel or go to other jurisdictions for those medical services. So, it creates, I think, great difficulty," Henrichsen said.

According to Henrichsen, it could take 30 to 60 days for the case to play out in the Court of Appeals. 


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