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Fla. will not appeal injunction on abortion restrictions

Florida Gov. Rick Scott's (R) administration will not appeal a temporary injunction on provisions in a state antiabortion-rights law (HB 1411) amid an ongoing lawsuit filed against the restrictions, the Florida Times-Union reports (Fineout, Florida Times-Union, 7/31).

Law details

The law, which was scheduled to take effect July 1, prohibits local health departments from allocating public funds to organizations affiliated with abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, for family planning services and other reproductive care for low-income residents. A ban on allocating public funds for abortion care is already in place.

The legislation also requires clinics that offer abortion care beyond the first trimester to have admitting privileges for their physicians at a local hospital and a transfer agreement with a hospital in the area. Clinics that offer abortion care only in the first trimester are required to have one of these two types of agreements.

Further, under the law, any facility that offers abortion-related counseling to a woman has to register with the state unless it counsels a woman to not have an abortion. The law also bans the sale, purchase or donation of fetal tissue resulting from abortion.

In addition, the law makes clinic inspection requirements more stringent and redefines gestation and pregnancy trimester dates, which affects when providers can offer abortion care.

Details on lawsuit

In June, Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit, asking a federal judge to overturn and halt the law's defunding provision, the new clinic inspection regulations and the change to pregnancy trimester dates.

Later that month, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law's defunding and file inspection provisions. He left in place the law's redefinition of gestation and pregnancy trimester dates.

In blocking the defunding provision, Hinkle ruled, "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."

Separately, Hinkle likened the law's patient-records requirement to a warrantless search (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/1).

Scott will not seek appeal

According to Jackie Schutz, a spokesperson for Scott, the governor's administration will not appeal Hinkle's ruling "to avoid greater uncertainty while we await the court's decision."

However, Schutz said the state will continue to defend the contested provisions in federal court (Florida Times-Union, 7/31).