TALLAHASSEE (LifeSiteNews) – The Florida Supreme Court ruled 4-1 Monday that a state law banning abortion at 15 weeks will remain in force at least until a final verdict on the merits of the case is determined, in what the office of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has identified as a key step toward further pro-life action in the Sunshine State.
Last April, DeSantis signed into law HB 5, which forbids the killing of 15-week-old preborn babies except to save the life of a mother or in cases of fatal fetal abnormality (but not rape or incest), and expands committees tasked with reviewing infant mortality cases.
Abortion defenders sued to block the law from taking effect, citing language in the Florida Constitution recognizing a right to “privacy.” While the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June, eliminating the federal judicial barrier to banning abortion, it did not resolve cases rooted in claims about state constitutions.
The four-justice majority did not offer written elaboration of their reasoning. Justice Jorge Labarga was the lone dissenter, and two jurists, Chief Justice Carlos Muniz and Justice Renatha Francis, did not participate.
DeSantis spokesperson Bryan Griffin celebrated the ruling by citing the Declaration of Independence’s guarantee of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” an apparent allusion to Vice President Kamala Harris omitting “life” from her own invocation of the nation’s founding document in pro-abortion remarks in Florida days before.
“The Declaration of Independence enumerates three unalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — and we stand for all of them,” Griffin stated.
DeSantis has made combatting the Left a cornerstone of his governorship and established one of the most proactive conservative records in the nation, fueling his popularity as a potential contender for the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination. But some have suggested abortion is an exception to that record, citing the relative modesty of Florida’s 15-week law as opposed to other states’ heartbeat laws or total abortion bans.
Last July, the governor’s office addressed these concerns in a statement to LifeSiteNews. Griffin pointed to a previous statement from the office explaining that “future legislative action necessarily depends on the resolution of” legal challenges to the 15-week law, and that “[w]e are in continuous contact with the legislature as this litigation proceeds, and we look forward to future policy plans to defend the unborn.”
“The pending state legal battle must necessarily be resolved before future legislative action can occur,” Griffin explained. “The governor’s office has filed a motion to certify the appeal for immediate resolution by the Florida Supreme Court. This was done because we believe that the Florida Supreme Court previously misinterpreted Florida’s right to privacy as including a right to an abortion, and we reject this interpretation. The Florida Constitution does not include – and has never included – a right to kill an innocent unborn child. We believe HB 5 will ultimately withstand all legal challenges. The struggle for life is not over.”
DeSantis, who has also ousted a left-wing prosecutor who publicly refused to enforce HB 5, put Florida pharmacies on notice not to sell abortion pills despite recent rule changes by the Biden administration, and signaled last month that he would sign a heartbeat law.