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Abortion advocates worry unfavorable ruling ahead after Florida Supreme Court's erroneous order

'Abortion is on the ballot this year,' Rep. Anna Eskamani says
Posted at 9:19 PM, Sep 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-08 21:19:53-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Confusion occurred this week after the Florida Supreme Court seemed to weigh in on the new 15-week abortion ban, then retracted its order seven hours later as a mistake.

It all happened Wednesday and concerned the ongoing lawsuit brought by abortion providers.

In a one-page unsigned order, justices said they wouldn't grant an emergency motion blocking the 15-week ban by lifting an automatic stay and reinstalling a circuit court's injunction.

Hours later, the court issued another order vacating the first.

The new filing called the previous an "error" and said the matter was still under consideration.

Some politicians have since questioned if that was the whole story. Florida Agriculture Commissioner and former gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried said the situation was lifting eyebrows.

"Unfortunately, this is going to raise some additional questions when that eventual ruling comes out," Fried said. "Is there a conversation that's happening outside of the chambers — whether that's to the governor's office or the attorney general’s office?"

A spokesman for the Florida Supreme Court, Paul Flemming, said the initial order was indeed a mistake and officials corrected it as soon as was noticed.

"The order released Wednesday afternoon was an error of the clerk’s office, a human error by staff," Flemming said in a statement. "The order vacating was filed and noticed when the error was recognized. I would underline the language in the order to vacate: The motion remains under consideration by the Court."

Even so, this back and forth has put abortion advocates on edge. They're more worried than ever that justices will uphold the new law, ruling that state privacy protections don't cover abortion. That would pave the way for further restrictions from the Legislature.

"If that upsets you like it upsets me, then you need to vote out DeSantis," Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, said. "That is the only path forward. Abortion is on the ballot this year."

Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he wants to work toward further pro-life protections but has offered no specifics. GOP leaders in the Legislature told us this week they support that vision though Floridians will likely have to wait for clarity on what comes next.

"There hasn't been any bill that has been, you know, shown to us, or given to us by the Governor's office as of yet— at least not for me personally," Rep. Daniel Perez, R-Miami, who is slated to become House Speaker in 2024, said. "I'm sure shortly after the election in November, that'll be one of the hotter topics."

While Florida waits for the court to offer its opinion on the ban, the new law remains in effect. It prohibits abortion after 15 weeks, with fatal fetal abnormalities the only exception.