Reproductive Rights

Federal Judge Blocks Restrictive Florida Abortion Bill

A federal judge has blocked parts of a new Florida law that aimed to limit access to abortion. The judge’s ruling prevents the state from cutting funding to health care clinics that provide abortion services, as well as blocks a provision that would have allowed annual inspections of half of all clinic patients’ medical records.

The law, signed earlier this year by Gov. Rick Scott, was struck down hours before it was set to take effect.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued the ruling claiming the provisions were, “based not on any objection to how the funds are being spent… but solely because the recipients of the funds choose to provide abortions separate and apart from any public funding.” He continued, “The Supreme Court has repeatedly said that a government cannot prohibit indirectly—by withholding otherwise available public funds—conduct that the government could not constitutionally prohibit directly.”

The ruling did leave intact a provision that redefined the dates of pregnancy trimesters, influencing when abortions can be performed. Hinkle did so after state officials argued the changes would not have any impacts, despite Planned Parenthood’s argument that it would limit abortion access.

A statement from Lillian A. Tamayo, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida reads, “As a result of today’s decision, thousands of people across Florida have the peace of mind that comes with knowing they can access essential reproductive health care, such as cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams. This ruling also sends an unmistakable message to politicians to quit playing politics with women’s health.”