In a vanishingly rare bit of good news this week, a federal judge has permanently blocked portions of an anti-abortion law in Florida designed to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. The money funds health screenings and a dropout prevention program. It doesn’t fund abortions. At all. Ever. As usual.
The bill, SB 1722, was signed into law by Governor and Chief Voldemort Impersonator Rick Scott in March, and featured a sweeping set of new restrictions: Besides the funding restrictions, it required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and even attempted to redefine pregnancy trimesters, presumably to make the cutoff point for legal abortions earlier.
The Associated Press reports that U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle has permanently blocked the funding restriction portions of the bill, after first placing a hold on the law in June. Hinkle ruled then that Florida’s reasons for withholding the funds from Planned Parenthood weren’t great, given that they were “based not on any objection to how the funds are being spent” but instead “solely because the recipients of the funds choose to provide abortions separate and apart from any public funding.”
The AP also reports that the Scott administration took the rare step of agreeing to not pursue any further legal action:
But instead of taking the case to trial and offering additional evidence or legal arguments, attorneys for the Scott administration agreed to forgo further legal action. They filed a joint motion with the plaintiffs earlier this month agreeing to end the litigation. Hinkle held a brief hearing to discuss the move and issued his final ruling hours later.
“We are grateful the court stepped in to stop Rick Scott in his tracks and protect access to health care,” said Lillian Tamayo, CEO of Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida. “If this law had gone into effect, it would have made a bad situation even worse.”
Planned Parenthood didn’t challenge the admitting privileges portion of the law, but they’re currently also suing over the bizarre trimester redefinition.