A federal judge on Thursday permanently blocked parts of a Florida law that aimed to cut off state funding for preventive health services at clinics that also provide abortions. US District Judge Robert Hinkle had issued a preliminary order in June after state Planned Parenthood affiliates challenged provisions as unconstitutional. The June order had come just before the restrictions were to take effect.
“The preliminary injunction is made permanent with this order,” Hinkle wrote in a three-page decision. The judge had found the clinics were unacceptably targeted by state efforts to eliminate funding for other healthcare services they also provided, such as birth control and screening for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.
The Planned Parenthood lawsuit, filed in US District Court for the Northern District of Florida, focused on the funding cuts. It said they jeopardized about $500,000 annually. Planned Parenthood also challenged state inspections seeking to review 50 percent of patient medical records at abortion clinics.
Lillian Tamayo, chief executive of Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida, said the organization was grateful the court had halted part of the law signed by Republican Governor Rick Scott. “If this law had gone into effect, it would have made a bad situation even worse,” she said in a statement.
Planned Parenthood did not challenge a related provision requiring doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, a type of formal affiliation that can be difficult to obtain. A spokeswoman for Scott said of the ruling, “We are reviewing it.” Florida was among many states adopting new abortion laws as conservatives seek to chip away at the US Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.