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Providers address confusion over Florida abortion law ruling

Anti-abortion activist goes to trial over letter
Posted at 10:09 PM, Jun 30, 2022

TAMPA, Fla. — Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida says their phones have been ringing off the hooks in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned.

"It's been quite a few weeks," the organization's CEO Stephanie Fraim. "People seeking abortion care there's just been a huge increase."

But they add that now with Florida's 15-week-abortion law being ruled unconstitutional by a circuit county judge, there's some confusion on where certain abortions stand in our state.

"July 1 we will not be providing abortion care post 15 weeks because of the confusion," said Fraim.

That's because the judge hasn't actually signed the paperwork which would temporarily block that law from going into effect on Friday. It's likely that he won't get a chance to sign it until early next week, which means the law technically would be in effect for a few days.

It's a point McKenna Kelley, a volunteer with the Tampa Bay Abortion Fund (TBAF) said the group wants to drive home. Still, Kelley said the organization also wants folks to know that they will have options if they're seeking an abortion after 15 weeks right now.

"We will be here to help you access care, it's just not going to be in Florida," said Kelley.

Kelley said even after the judge signs that injunction, the current confusion won't immediately clear up.

"It may take clinics a little bit of time to just sort through the legal ramifications and the logistical ramifications around that 15-week point or after that 15-week point," she said. "So it may still be necessary even after the injunction is signed for people seeking an abortion at or after 15-weeks to go out of state until the dust settles essentially."

While abortion-rights advocates and providers work through those logistics they're also celebrating the judge's overall decision. But on the other side of things —the local state senator who sponsored the bill behind this law, Kelli Stargel, said this injunction was an expected roadblock.

"The governor said today he was going appeal it and it would go the First DCA (District Court of Appeal) and they would uphold that our law is constitutional," she said.

Stargel also said she's confident the U.S. Supreme Court would uphold the law if the fight makes it that far. And if not, she said a new version of the law would likely be introduced in the near future.

"I know there are a lot of other legislators in addition to me who very much support the legislation that we've done and I feel confident that they'll take up the mantle and continue to push to protect babies in our state," she said.

The lack of abortion exceptions in this contested law has also drawn a lot of criticism. ABC Action News also asked Stargel if she supported the possibility of expanded exceptions in future abortion law proposals in Florida, or amendments to the current law.

"I think it's a bottom line of whether you think that baby in the womb is a life separate and apart from its mother. And I believe that it is. Just because the baby may have been conceived in a way, whether it was incest or rape, it's still a separate and apart human being and I think it has the right to live and I think to exist," she said. "The mother doesn't have to keep it and raise it, she can put it up for adoption, there's a lot of wonderful organizations that will take the baby but I don't think victim because of the way in which it was conceived."