Judge declines to block Florida's 15-week abortion ban i case brought by clergy members

 March 1, 2023

In a case brought by clergy members of several religions, a Miami court rejected to halt Florida's 15-week abortion ban, Bill 5, on Friday.

In August, three rabbis, a Unitarian Universalist minister, an Episcopal Church priest, a Buddhist lama, and a United Church of Christ reverend filed separate lawsuits against the state of Florida, according to Breitbart News.

The clergy claimed that the statute infringes on their rights to free speech and religious freedom. The lawsuits have now been merged into one.

The Plaintiff's Claims

The clergy members argue in their complaint that the law puts them “at risk of prosecution for counseling women, girls, and families to obtain an abortion beyond the narrow bounds of HB 5 as someone who aids and abets the crime.”


“Under Florida’s aiding and abetting law, they commit the crime itself by counseling in favor of it,” the complaint continues.

Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman sided with the plaintiffs and refused a plea by church groups for a temporary injunction against Florida's pro-life statute. Throughout the course of the dispute, a temporary injunction would have prevented the 15-week abortion restriction from being enforced.

“The plaintiffs in these consolidated actions are under no immediate and ongoing risk of prosecution,” Hanzman said.

Gayle Pomerantz, a rabbi and plaintiff, told WPLG Local 10 that she feels the court “ruled on just one aspect of the motion and not in its entirety.”

“I think that the bill challenges our constitutional rights. It challenges [the] separation of church and state,” Pomerantz said.

Florida's Law

This year, a court temporarily suspended the state's pro-life statute after it went into force for 15 weeks. Nevertheless, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis swiftly challenged the judge's decision, thus nullifying the judgement.

DeSantis termed the measure, which he signed in April 2022, a "wonderful piece of legislation that reflects the most robust safeguards for life in the state's modern history."

“[The bill] protects the rights of unborn children starting at 15 weeks. This is a time where these babies have beating hearts. They can move, they can taste, they can see, they can feel pain, they can suck their thumb, and they have brain waves,” he said.

Florida is one of dozens of states that began to restrict abortion access following the revocation of federal abortion protections when the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade was reversed in the summer of 2022.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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