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Rule Proposed Amid Abortion Legal Squabbles

As a federal judge considers whether part of a 2016 abortion law should be blocked, the state Agency for Health Care Administration has proposed a rule that it says would address a key issue in the legal battle.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle heard arguments last month in the lawsuit, which was filed in December by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. A major issue in the case is a requirement that people or groups that provide information about abortions have to register with the state and pay a $200 fee.

Plaintiffs, including clergy members, argue that the law violates First Amendment rights. But the Agency for Health Care Administration on Monday filed in federal court a proposed rule that it says clarifies the registration issue. The proposed rule says registration would only be required for people or groups "who are paid for the particular purpose of providing advice or assistance to persons in obtaining abortions or in pursuing alternatives to abortion."

Hinkle, who blocked other parts of the wide-ranging abortion law last summer, heard arguments Jan. 27 on the registration issue but has not issued a decision.