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A judge's decision is expected Thursday on Florida's 15-week abortion ban

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A law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks is set to go into effect Friday unless a judge issues a temporary injunction. Arguments in the challenge resume Thursday.

A new Florida law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks is set to go into effect at the end of this week unless a state judge issues a temporary injunction.

Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper began hearing arguments in the case days after the U.S. Supreme Court ended federal protections for abortion by overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

He said his job is to look at case law and precedent from the state as he considers his ruling.

Planned Parenthood and other health centers were in court in Tallahassee on Monday seeking to stop the law (HB 5). They claim the law violates a privacy clause in the state constitution.

“Do both sides agree that it’s not my function to predict what the Supreme Court might do in the future," Cooper asked. "That would be called activism, wouldn’t it?”

The law was passed by the state Legislature, then signed in April by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Monday’s hearing centered on testimony on abortion statistics and medical and scientific aspects of abortion, with privacy issues scarcely brought up.

One of the few exemptions under the new law allows abortions when the life of the pregnant person is in danger, but Dr. Shelly Tien, a gynecologist and abortion care provider. for Planned Parenthood, says that could create more risk.

She used the example of bleeding, which can be common and resolve on its own, or can become severe. In that case, Tien says the standard of care is to end the pregnancy.
“It is the standard of care to be proactive on acting on bleeding. We know that pathology is a spectrum that can accelerate within a couple of hours within an afternoon, and so to wait until the very moment in which a patient is about to have permanent damage from bleeding—permanent kidney failure, a heart attack, a stroke, is antithetical to good patient care," Tien said.

Maureen Condic, a professor of neurobiology at the University of Utah who described herself as a "scientist," testified for the defense and said that life begins essentially at the moment of conception and that fetuses are capable of feeling pain.

Supporters of the law hope if the case moves to the Florida Supreme Court, the new more conservative justices on the bench could hand down a different interpretation of the privacy clause.

Lawyers will return to court Thursday for more arguments.

A ruling is expected Thursday after the hearing concludes.

Abortion battles begin in other state courts

Abortion bans on Monday were temporarily blocked in Louisiana and Utah, while a federal court in South Carolina says a law sharply restricting the procedure can take effect there immediately.

Much of the court activity focused on “trigger laws,” adopted in 13 states that were designed to take effect swiftly after the ruling. That included the holds in Utah and Louisiana.

Abortion rights activists also went to court Monday to try to fend off restrictions in Texas, Idaho, Kentucky and Mississippi, the state at the center of the Supreme Court ruling.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona has also filed an emergency motion to block a 2021 law.

A hearing was scheduled for Tuesday in Texas as clinics there seek assurances they can resume services for at least a few more weeks without risking prosecution. .

Information from the Associated Press and News Service of Florida was used in this report.

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