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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

State agencies haven't appealed judge's abortion ruling, won't say if they plan to

A week after U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle blocked controversial new abortion restrictions, the state has not filed an appeal.

The injunction, requested by Planned Parenthood and granted late June 30,prevents two parts of a law signed this spring by Gov. Rick Scott from going into effect.

Spokespeople for the Department of Health and Agency for Health Care Administration -- the two agencies responsible for enforcing the abortion law and named in the Planned Parenthood lawsuit -- won't say whether the state plans to file an appeal later.

“The department is complying with the judge's ruling and is reissuing the contracts that expired on June 30. No services will be interrupted,” Department of Health spokeswoman Mara Gambineri said in a statement.

Earlier Friday, Gambineri told the Times/Herald that DOH did not plan to file an appeal. She said she misspoke and that information was incorrect.

AHCA spokeswoman Shelisha Coleman said the agency is “still reviewing the judge’s order.”

Neither DOH nor AHCA has filed an appeal asking the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Hinkle's order.

One part of the law blocked by Hinkle would have prohibited government funds from abortion clinics, including cancer screenings, HIV tests and family planning funded by Medicaid and local governments. That provision led DOH to cancel contracts with Planned Parenthood, which Gambineri says are being re-issued.

The second provision required that state regulators review patient records from half of the approximately 70,000 abortions in the state each year.

In the ruling, Hinkle said he believed Planned Parenthood was likely to be successful in having those provisions ruled unconstitutional.

The injunction is in effect while Planned Parenthood's lawsuit seeking to strike down those portions of the law moves forward. The state could have appealed it, requesting a higher court to overrule Hinkle.

Supporters of the law say it is intended to increase safety in abortion clinics and prevent the state from indirectly subsidizing abortions.  But critics say it’s an unnecessary and unconstitutional burden on women’s right to have an abortion.

[Last modified: Friday, July 8, 2016 5:00pm]

    

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