Clinics, doctor go to Supreme Court in fight against abortion law

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Abortion clinics and a doctor launched a challenge in the Florida Supreme Court after an appeals court on Wednesday rejected a temporary injunction that would have blocked a new law barring abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Lawyers for the group of clinics and the doctor, Shelly Hsiao-Ying Tien, filed a notice Thursday afternoon that is a first step in asking the Supreme Court to review the decision of a panel of the First District Court of Appeals. .

The notice, posted on the Supreme Court’s website Friday, was the latest in a series of legal moves in the battle over the law, which the Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis approved earlier this year.

As is common, the notice does not detail the arguments that the lawyers will present in the Supreme Court. But it has its roots in a temporary injunction issued July 5 by Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper, who ruled that the 15-week abortion limit violated a privacy clause in the Florida Constitution that has strengthened abortion rights in the state for more than three decades.

Attorneys for the state appealed Cooper’s ruling to the Tallahassee-based First District Court of Appeals, a move that, under legal rules, automatically stayed the temporary injunction. That effectively allowed the 15-week abortion limit to be in place while legal wrangling continued.

The clinics and the doctor, represented by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the international law firm Jenner & Block, have asked the appeals court to lift the stay.

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But the appeals court panel, in a 2-1 decision on July 21, refused to lift the stay. The panel, in another 2-1 decision Wednesday, threw out Cooper’s underlying temporary injunction.

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed the 15-week limit amid a national debate over abortion rights, and the abortion clinics and doctor filed the lawsuit June 1.

Wednesday’s decision by the appeals court was based on the logic it used in refusing to lift the stay on July 21. A key question has been whether the plaintiffs could prove “irreparable harm” from the near-total ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

In the July 21 decision, Judge Brad Thomas wrote that “a temporary injunction cannot be issued without showing irreparable harm. As for the appellees (the abortion clinics and the doctor), any loss of income resulting from the application of the law cannot form the basis for determining irreparable harm as a matter of law. And the parties do not dispute that the application of the law will not affect the majority of planned abortions.

In addition, Thomas, who was joined in the opinion by Judge Stephanie Ray, wrote that the plaintiffs “cannot legally obtain a temporary injunction as they cannot claim that they will suffer irreparable harm unless the trial court upholds the status of the court.” what before … Appellees’ claims are based on the allegation that they have doubts about their ability to perform abortions, not that they themselves may be prohibited from obtaining an abortion after a certain time.”

But Judge Susan Kelsey dissented on July 21 and in Wednesday’s decision.

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“In the specific context of abortion regulation, the Florida Supreme Court has held that even the ‘minimal’ loss of the constitutional right to privacy is per se irreparable harm,” Kelsey wrote last month. She added: “Therefore, we are bound to assume irreparable damage.”

Lawyers for the clinic and the doctor also appealed the July 21 suspension decision to the Supreme Court, but that matter was pending before Wednesday’s decision.

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