The state is expected to appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, where Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has appointed three of the seven justices.
While 20 years of Republican-led legislatures have chipped away at abortion rights in Florida, overall access to the procedure has been upheld in court cases and on the ballot as part of the state’s constitutional right to privacy.
With Thursday’s decision, Florida remains one of 11 states that have already recognized and protected abortion access independently from the U.S. Supreme Court. Current law in Florida permits abortions up to 24 weeks, and afterward in cases of health endangerment and in cases of rape or incest.
DeSantis signed the law in April. It was passed after hours of often emotional debate on the House and Senate floors, which were accompanied by rallies and protests outside the state’s Capitol. Republicans said Florida was “behind the curve” on the issue, with one lawmaker saying the state had become “an abortion destination.” They called the new law “reasonable” and “generous.”
Witnesses at this week’s nonjury trial in Tallahassee included two women called by the state who are associated with the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an antiabortion research group.
The judge signaled his ruling when he questioned the state’s witnesses about their statements and experience. He noted that the state’s witnesses had “an unwillingness to rely on essentially any U.S. data.”
“I’m not here to litigate abortion, I’m here to litigate the right to privacy in Florida. I’m not here to litigate Roe v. Wade,” Cooper said.