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US Judge Blocks Florida Law to End Abortion Clinic Funding

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Friday, 01 Jul 2016 04:54 PM

A federal judge has blocked parts of a new Florida law aiming to cut off state funding for preventive health services at clinics that also provide abortions, acting shortly before the restrictions took effect on Friday.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued a preliminary injunction late on Thursday after state Planned Parenthood affiliates challenged certain provisions as unconstitutional.

Hinkle found the clinics were unacceptably targeted by state efforts to eliminate funding for other healthcare services they also provide, such as birth control and screening for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.

"The state's only beef is that the plaintiffs provide abortions," he wrote, noting that Florida already prohibits funding for abortions, as courts have held permissible.

Florida is among many states adopting new abortion laws as conservatives seek to chip away at the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

In Louisiana, a federal lawsuit filed on Friday challenges seven new abortion restrictions adopted this year, the most of any state, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing two abortion state clinics and several physicians who perform the procedure.

The abortion rights group argues that each new restriction is unconstitutional, including requiring women to wait three days for an abortion.

Supporters of the wide-ranging law adopted this spring in Florida also argued it would protect women's health. Florida's law included restrictions similar to those in a Texas law that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down earlier this week.

Planned Parenthood, however, did not challenge in its lawsuit a related provision requiring doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, a type of formal affiliation that can be difficult to obtain.

The Planned Parenthood lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for Northern District of Florida, focused on the funding cuts, which it said jeopardized about $500,000 annually. Planned Parenthood also challenged state inspections seeking to review 50 percent of patient medical records at abortion clinics.

Hinkle's 25-page injunction also blocked the additional inspections, noting that other medical facilities had lower volume requirements.

"The inspection provision is a solution in search of a problem," Hinkle wrote.

Planned Parenthood clarified at a court hearing concerns about changes in how the state defines gestational stages, said Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, applauding the ruling.

"This means this vital programs will continue to go forward," she said in a phone interview. "Because anti-women's health politicians want to end abortion, they went to the lengths of trying to stop these preventive services."

The Florida Department of Health, named in the lawsuit, did not immediately provide comment. Neither did the office of Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

   
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A federal judge has blocked parts of a new Florida law aiming to cut off state funding for preventive health services at clinics that also provide abortions, acting shortly before the restrictions took effect on Friday.
judge, blocks, Florida law, end, clinic, funding
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2016-54-01
Friday, 01 Jul 2016 04:54 PM
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