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Judge Issues Permanent Injunction Against Abortion Law

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A federal judge Thursday issued a permanent injunction against a new Florida abortion law that would have led to increased inspections of clinic records and prevented abortion providers from receiving public money for other health services.

The ruling made permanent a preliminary injunction that U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued June 30.

Planned Parenthood filed the lawsuit after the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott approved the controversial law early this year.

Hinkle blocked part of the law that would have required state health officials to inspect half of all abortion patients' records. He also ruled against perhaps the law's most-controversial provision, which sought to prevent public funds from going to abortion providers.

Clinics already cannot receive tax dollars to pay for abortions, but the new law also would have cut off funding that providers receive to offer other women's health services.

"The defendants must not terminate any grant, contract, or other funding device based on the enjoined provisions and must not fail to renew any grant, contract, or other funding device that, but for the enjoined provisions, would have been renewed or would be renewed," Hinkle wrote Thursday.

Lawyers for the state argued that the ban on using public funds for other services was permissible because it did not impose an "undue burden" on a women's right to an abortion.

After Hinkle issued the preliminary injunction in June, Senate bill sponsor Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, called his ruling "a clear infringement on both the Legislature's constitutional authority to appropriate taxpayer dollars, and our responsibility to properly regulate medical facilities."

But Planned Parenthood argued that the law, in part, would prevent women from getting needed health services, such as cancer screenings and tests for sexually transmitted diseases.

In a statement released Thursday evening, Barbara A. Zdravecky, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, called Hinkle's ruling a "victory" for people who rely on Planned Parenthood for services.

"For many people, Planned Parenthood is the only place they can turn to," she said in the statement. "We may be the only place they can go in their community, or the only place that offers the screening or birth control method they need."