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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Planned Parenthood sues state of Florida over abortion law

Planned Parenthood on Thursday sued the state of Florida over a controversial abortion law that would cut off state Medicaid money for non-abortion services from their clinics.

The suit alleges that the law, signed by Gov. Rick Scott on March 25, was intended to "punish, harass, and stigmatize the state’s abortion providers for their and their patients’ exercise of constitutional rights."

It's unconstitutional, Planned Parenthood's lawyers write, for the state to block funding for programs like HIV testing and breast cancer screenings from certain types of providers. The lawsuit also challenges new definitions of the trimesters of a pregnancy, calling them medically invalid. The trimester provision stems from a legal battle late last fall between the state and Planned Parenthood.

The suit asks the U.S. District Court in Tallahassee to rule those provisions unconstitutional and prevent the law from going into effect as scheduled on July 1.

The Department of Health, which is named in the suit, is "reviewing the lawsuit," spokeswoman Mara Gambineri said.

During heated debates in the legislative session, Sen. Kelli Stargel and Rep. Colleen Burton, both Republicans of Lakeland, said the law would protect women's health, but it was widely taken by Democrats and abortion-rights supporters as an attack on clinics.

[Last modified: Thursday, June 2, 2016 8:46pm]


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