In a brief respite for abortion rights activists in the United States, a judge in Florida blocked a state law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, on Thursday, 30 June. This is one of the latest activities in state legislatures and courts in the aftermath of US Supreme Court's decision to overturn a half-a-century old law that made abortion a federal right.
The Florida law was scheduled to take effect on Friday, 1 July, according to a report by The New York Times. However, according to Judge C Cooper of the Second Judicial Circuit Court in Tallahassee, the Florida law violates privacy protections in the state Constitution.
The statewide injunction declared by Judge Cooper will be temporary until a written order is signed. This delay will result in the state's ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy being valid for a few days until the paperwork is completed. With the Fourth of July holiday, this delay might be significant.
Current Abortion Laws in Florida
Up until Thursday, 30 June, Florida permitted abortions until 24 weeks of pregnancy. It has been a state of refuge for women seeking abortion from nearby southeastern states that have tighter restrictions, especially since the Supreme Court's ruling on Friday, 24 June, that made abortion illegal on a federal level.
More than 79,000 abortions were performed in Florida last year, according to The New York Times.
Even after Judge Cooper's ruling goes into action, it is expected that the state would appeal. Moreover, Cooper admitted that the appellate court would most likely end up overturning his temporary pause.
Thus, access to abortion procedures in Florida might still be short-lived.
Legal Fights Across the United States
Various plaintiffs in different states across the country are arguing for their own state Constitutions to provide protections for abortion. A judge in Kentucky also blocked an abortion ban triggered by the Supreme Court's ruling, on Thursday, 30 June, on a temporary basis.
That trigger law implemented a complete ban on the procedure which resulted in clinics turning patients away.
Thursday was the day of legal fights across the country on the issue of abortion rights.
The Supreme Court paved the path for Arizona to enforce a state law that makes abortions on the basis of genetic fetal conditions like Down Syndrome, illegal.
Arizona is also ready to enforce a stricter restriction that would make all abortions except in situations where a woman's life is at stake, illegal. The total ban law used to be in place more than a century ago.
In Texas, the attorney general asked the Texas State Supreme Court to issue a ruling that stops law enforcement from criminally prosecuting abortion.
(With inputs from The New York Times and The Washington Post)