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State Asks Judge To Let Abortion Law Take Effect

Attorney General Pam Bondi's office on Monday asked a federal judge to reject Planned Parenthood's attempt to block parts of a controversial new abortion law, saying the organization offers "nothing to establish that the challenged legislation would negatively affect women seeking abortions."

Bondi's office, representing the Florida Department of Health and the Agency for Health Care Administration, filed a 41-page document in federal court opposing Planned Parenthood's request for an injunction against parts of the law, which passed during this year's legislative session and is scheduled to take effect July 1.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle is scheduled to hear arguments June 29. Planned Parenthood filed the lawsuit June 2 and challenged the constitutionality of three parts of the law.

The complaint, in part, targets a section of the law that seeks to prevent state agencies, local governments and Medicaid managed-care plans from contracting with organizations that own, operate or are affiliated with clinics that perform elective abortions.

While government agencies are already barred from funding elective abortions, Planned Parenthood argues that the new law would prevent clinics from receiving money to provide other health services for women, such as pap smears, pregnancy testing and screening for sexually transmitted diseases.

The complaint also challenges part of the law that would require the Agency for Health Care Administration to inspect at least 50 percent of abortion-clinic patient records each year.

In addition, the complaint challenges a section of the law that would change the state's definition of trimesters of pregnancy.

The document filed Monday by Bondi's office addressed each of the issues, including the issue of cutting off funding to organizations affiliated with abortion clinics.

"While the so-called defunding legislation removes abortion providers' potential reliance on public funds to subsidize their overhead, it does not interfere with their right to perform abortions or burden the right of women to undergo abortions," the document said. "Both federal and Florida law already forbid the use of public funds for abortions. Indeed, the funding at issue represents a fraction of plaintiffs' own revenue streams, belying any claim that plaintiffs are now torn between abandoning abortion services or abandoning other services."