A judge has put the brakes on a new Florida abortion law, hours before it was to take effect. The halt was part of the ruling in the case of Planned Parenthood that challenged the bill that put multiple restrictions on abortion clinics and would have led to most of them being forced to shut down.

US District Judge Robert Hinkle gave his ruling on 30 June, putting a temporary injunction on some key components of the HB 1411 bill that Governor Rick Scott had signed into law in 2015.

Judge Hinkle in his ruling said previous federal rulings had made it clear that the government cannot indirectly try to stop an activity that is legally allowed.

"As a result of today's decision, thousands of people across Florida have the peace of mind that comes with knowing they can access essential reproductive health care, such as cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams. This ruling also sends an unmistakable message to politicians to quit playing politics with women's health," president/CEO, Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida, Lillian A Tamayo said following the ruling.

"In their callous zeal to pass this legislation, politicians in Florida actually suggested that women could turn to elementary schools and podiatrists to seek the essential reproductive health care they would no longer be able to access at Planned Parenthood.

"Cutting off funding for birth control and cancer screenings to organisations that provide abortion services is just plain wrong," she added.

Planned Parenthood
Protesters declare support for Planned Parenthood Reuters

What is the HB 1411 bill?

The Florida senate defines the bill as "Termination of Pregnancies; Revising the requirements for disposal of foetal remains; revising the criminal punishment for failure to properly dispose of foetal remains; requiring the Agency for Health Care Administration to develop and enforce rules relating to license inspections and investigations of certain clinics; requiring certain organisations that provide abortion referral services or abortion counselling services to register with the agency, pay a specified fee, and include certain information in advertisements, etc."

The bill would:

  • Restrict state agencies, local governmental entities, and Medicaid managed care plans from contracting with, or expending funds for the benefit of, an organisation that owns, operates, or is affiliated with one or more clinics that perform abortions, with some exceptions.
  • All physicians who perform abortions in the clinic would need to have admitting privileges at a hospital within reasonable proximity of the clinic.

Barbara A Zdravecky, president/CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, also released a statement saying: "Floridians oppose cutting off funding for birth control and cancer screenings to organisations that provide abortion services, and local and national public health experts have spoken out time and again about the dangerous consequences of blocking care at Planned Parenthood.

"We continue to call this law what it is: a political attack aimed at Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health care providers. Women don't turn to politicians for advice about mammograms, prenatal care, or cancer treatments. Politicians should not be involved in a woman's personal medical decisions about her pregnancy."