TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A new abortion law is set to take effect in Florida on Friday.
House Bill 5 will ban nearly all procedures after 15 weeks of pregnancy. HB 5 was at the center of a hearing in Tallahassee Monday.
There’s a right to privacy in Florida’s state constitution. Historically, the Florida Supreme Court has recognized that broad right to include the right to abortion.
Health care providers said this new law violates that clause.
Earlier this month, they filed a lawsuit to stop its enforcement and to keep abortion legal after 15 weeks.
HB 5 bans the procedure after 15 weeks with two limited exceptions.
Abortion will be legal only for the life or significant physical health of the mother or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality.
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has reversed Roe v. Wade, any challenge to Florida’s law must be in state court.
On Monday, health care providers suing to block HB 5 made their case to Circuit Court Judge John Cooper.
“I’m not here to litigate abortion, I’m here to litigate the right of privacy in Florida,” Judge Cooper said.
Dr. Shelly Tien, a witness for planned parenthood, testified that patients who seek abortion after 15 weeks are often in crisis or living in poverty.
Moreover, the doctor, who cares for patients with high risk pregnancies, argued that fetal complications take time to develop.
That means Dr. Tien testified that women would be in the dark about abnormalities and then unable to terminate the pregnancy.
“Many anomalies are not evident until after 15 weeks,” Dr. Tien said. “HB 5 would be devastating for my patients.”
The state, defending the restrictions, argued that the vast majority of abortions take place during the first trimester.
State data shows in 2021 more than 56,000 abortions had occurred by 12 weeks of pregnancy.
2,848 abortions happened in the second trimester.
The state argues the new law will encourage women to have the procedure sooner.
Dr. Ingrid Skop testified for the state.
“Based on my years of experience and research, I have not found any medical reasons that women must have this procedure, and I think it is used for social indications, but I think it is extremely rare to be used for medical applications,” Dr. Skop said.
Closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday.
If the judge wants to block this law, he would have to act within hours.