Florida Judge Delays 15-Week Abortion Ban—DeSantis is Not Surprised


PUNTA GORDA, Fla.—A circuit judge declared Florida’s 15-week abortion ban unconstitutional by “delaying it” and Gov. Ron DeSantis said the decision was not “unanticipated.”

Leon Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled on June 30 that the new law signed by DeSantis in April was “unconstitutional” and that it was “temporarily delayed,” but would only take effect after he “issued a written order”—meaning it could still take effect on July 1.

“We knew that was likely going to be what was decided in that case,” the governor said at a June 30 press conference in Sanford. “It was not, of course, something that we were happy to see.”

Shortly, after the legislation was signed into law, attorneys for the ACLU and Planned Parenthood sued to stop the law and asked the court for an injunction.

A Planned Parenthood facility in Anaheim, Calif., on September 10, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

They argued the law violates the right to privacy provided in the state’s constitution which was approved by the voters in 1980.

In the past, court cases have affirmed the right of privacy extended to a woman’s right to obtain an abortion.

Staff attorney for the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, Whitney White said Florida’s 15-week ban would “force people to carry pregnancies against their will.”

“This ban defies the will of the people and rights that Floridians have relied on for decades,” she said in a released statement.

“Everyone deserves the ability to access the abortion care they need and we’ll continue fighting for that right with every tool at our disposal.”

Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said there is a “glimmer of hope for abortion access” in Florida.

“This decision could not come at a more crucial time, she said in a released statement. “As abortion bans ripple across the country Floridians need to be able to access care at home.”

Stephanie Fraim, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida said that abortion bans are “dangerous.”

“We are grateful this court recognized that it is an unconstitutional intrusion on our patients’ and providers’ medical decisions,” she told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.

“Once the ban is blocked, Florida abortion providers will be able to offer patients who decide to have an abortion the care they need here at home.”

Under the new law that was to go into effect on July 1 abortion providers would face fines, imprisonment, and the loss of their medical license.

The plaintiffs’ witness testified that the restrictions could interfere with the bond between a patient and their physician and their ability to provide the “best medical course of action.”

The state argued that it would have a minimum impact since more than 96 percent of abortions occur before 15 weeks and nothing in the law would prevent a woman from getting an abortion early.

In fact, they said in court, “it would probably motivate women to seek abortions earlier.”

Also, the state said it had a “compelling interest” to limit abortions because of the “risk, mortality, and mental health of the mother.”

Additionally, the fetus has the “potential to feel pain after 15 weeks.”

Cooper’s decision comes one week after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 50-year-old national right to abortion law Roe v. Wade, putting the decision of abortion rights back to the states.

DeSantis went on to say that the state would continue to fight for the unborn through “continuing the legal battle.”

“These are unborn babies that have a heartbeat, they can feel pain, they can suck their thumb and to say that the state constitution mandates things like dismemberment abortions, I just don’t think that’s proper,” he said.

Jannis Falkenstern

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Jannis Falkenstern is an Epoch Times reporter who covers the state of Florida.



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House Subcommittee Misleads About Florida’s Stance on COVID-19 Vaccines for Children: Florida Surgeon General


The Florida surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, on June 29 accused the office of Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, of having issued misleading statements about various matters related to Florida’s attitude and actions toward COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5.

Florida is the only state that did not join a preordering system for COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5 that President Joe Biden’s administration opened in early June, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre noted on June 16.

Following the news, Clyburn issued a letter on June 17 (pdf) urging Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to order the vaccines for the age group, or explain via a staff briefing to be held no later than June 30 why the state didn’t preorder the vaccines.

June 17 was also the same day the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5.

The staff briefing was held on June 28, after which the congressional subcommittee issued a press release on June 29 in which Clyburn accused DeSantis of having taken steps to “impede access to lifesaving coronavirus vaccines” for Florida’s children, and “made it harder for parents across the state to get their children vaccinated.”

Clyburn also said in his statement that DeSantis had promoted “anti-vaccine misinformation” that is “making it harder for parents to make fully informed decisions on how best to protect children’s health.”

DeSantis had previously said at a press conference on June 20, “We recommend against [vaccinating babies]. We are not going to have any program where we’re trying to jab 6-month-old babies with mRNA. That’s just the reality.”

“Florida does not recommend, nor distribute, shots for babies,” Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’s press secretary, previously stated on Twitter. “Health care providers that want the vaccines can obtain them and any parent who wants it for their child can get it.”

Clyburn in his letter asserted: “Coronavirus vaccines have proven to be extremely safe and highly effective at reducing the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

“Now that they have been authorized for young children, all parents must be given accurate information on the vaccines’ benefits and must have the freedom to vaccinate their children without needless barriers put in place by politicians like Governor DeSantis.”

Subcommittee Chairman Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) speaks during a hearing before House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis at Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 23, 2022. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The press release said that Florida’s decision not to pre-order the vaccines “may have delayed vaccinations” for the children under 5, and that more than 30,000 Florida children under 5 “still may not have access to coronavirus vaccines.”

Ladapo, in a two-page letter he sent Clyburn on June 29 in response to the press release, wrote, “It is unfortunate that the information you released is perpetuating confusion among the public. Parents are in the best position to make these decisions for their children. Florida remains committed to making recommendations based on data and science—not ideology.”

Florida Never Limited COVID-19 Vaccine Access: Ladapo

Ladapo said that the press release from the subcommittee provided “blatantly false statements” that “distract from legitimate public health efforts.”

Using our good-faith meeting as a launching pad for political attacks shows why people trust Florida–and not the federal government,” he wrote on Twitter.

He said in the letter to Clyburn, “Information regarding the meeting released to media outlets earlier today mischaracterizes the conversation and we welcome the opportunity to clarify.”

The Florida Department of Health never limited vaccine access in Florida at any point since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that Florida had determined that preordering was unnecessary due to a low demand for COVID-19 vaccines for children, Ladapo said.

Preordering vaccines was done previously when supply was low and demand was high among high-risk populations such as those aged 65 and above, he noted.

Ladapo also said the state’s health department saw inefficiencies in previous pre-orderings of COVID-19 vaccines and so determined “that the process is cumbersome and no longer needed.” Rather than assuming demand, by allowing the vaccine providers to gauge their individual needs and directly order, it allowed for “more efficient resource management and distribution,” he said.

“While the Department chose not to engage in the pre-ordering process, providers were never restricted from ordering,” Ladapo noted, adding that pediatricians began ordering vaccines on June 17 when the EUAs were granted.

“Providers started receiving orders as early as June 21, 2022, which is further evidence for why the pre-ordering process is not needed,” Lapado added. “States that pre-ordered this vaccine will likely be left holding a significant amount of product due to the lack of demand.”

Children Under 5 Receive Covid-19 Vaccines At University Of Washington Hospital
A 3-year-old girl sits on the lap of her mother and gets a sticker from the nurse after receiving her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at UW Medical Center–Roosevelt in Seattle, Washington, on June 21, 2022. (David Ryder/Getty Images)

Reaffirms COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance, Policy in Florida

The Florida surgeon general also reaffirmed his decision to recommend against COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5.

“There are no data that prove this vaccine is more effective than the placebo in reducing severe illness and other clinically meaningful outcomes in this age group,” Lapado wrote. “There is also inadequate data regarding the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

He said studies continue to show a risk of heart inflammation—myocarditis and pericarditis—across multiple age groups but especially in adolescents and young males.

The Florida Department of Health disagrees with the FDA’s and the CDC’s recommendation of the COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5, Ladapo wrote. Manufacturers Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have “failed to meet” the burden of proof for vaccine efficacy and safety such that the products’ benefits outweigh the risks for the age group under 5, he said.

The surgeon general noted that Florida “has always ensured COVID-19 vaccines and treatments are widely available, but never mandated.”

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey in April found that 18 percent of parents of children under 5 would get their children COVID-19 vaccines right away as soon as the vaccines received EUAs, Ladapo pointed out.

He noted that Florida “transitioned from an emergency COVID-19 response to an endemic phase which shifts health care back to private providers and the normal stream of health care,” and that the state expects doctors to manage COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis.

Children Under 5 Receive Covid-19 Vaccines At University Of Washington Hospital
Doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine and vaccination record cards await pediatric patients at UW Medical Center–Roosevelt in Seattle, Washington, on June 21, 2022. (David Ryder/Getty Images)

The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, in a statement on Twitter, said that Ladapo’s letter “did not dispute a single fact” in the press release and called Ladapo’s statements made at the staff briefing on June 28 “dangerous rhetoric.”

“At yesterday’s briefing, Dr. Ladapo made clear neither he nor Gov. DeSantis believe Florida parents should have the choice to vaccinate their children against the coronavirus at county health departments, the primary point of care for 33,000 Florida kids,” the statement reads.

The same subcommittee had noted in its press release that Ladapo said he does not believe that the Florida Department of Health “should be on the back” of health care providers to provide access to “a product we don’t agree with.”

Mimi Nguyen Ly

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Mimi Nguyen Ly is a reporter based in Australia. She covers world news with a focus on U.S. news. Contact her at mimi.nl@epochtimes.com





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Jury Is Chosen to Decide Florida School Shooter’s Sentence

A jury of seven men and five women was chosen Tuesday to decide whether Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz should be sentenced to death or get life in prison for his 2018 massacre, capping a nearly three-month selection process that began with 1,800 candidates.

The jury will decide whether Cruz, 23, receives the death penalty or life without parole for the murders of 14 students and three staff members at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018. Cruz pleaded guilty in October to those murders and 17 counts of attempted murder, so the jurors will only decide his punishment.

The jury was chosen from a final pool of 53 candidates who survived three rounds of questioning that began April 4. Jury selection had been expected to take about a month, but was beset by numerous delays because of sickness and other factors.

The jurors chose were two banking executives and two tech workers, a probation officer, a human resources professional and a Walmart store stock supervisor. Also included are a librarian, a medical claims adjuster, a legal assistant and two retired executivees from the insurance and health care fields.

In addition to the jurors, a group of between eight and 10 alternates was still being chosen.


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CDC: Deadly Meningococcal Outbreak Among Florida Gay Men

Florida has reported 24 cases and six deaths of meningococcal disease, spurring an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues its collaboration with the Florida Department of Health to investigate one of the worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease among gay and bisexual men in U.S. history,” the CDC announced in a statement Wednesday.

The CDC is urging gay and bisexual men in Florida to get vaccinated, along with warning those traveling to Florida.

“Getting vaccinated against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent this serious illness, which can quickly become deadly,” Dr. José R. Romero, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, wrote in a statement.

“Because of the outbreak in Florida, and the number of Pride events being held across the state in coming weeks, it’s important that gay and bisexual men who live in Florida get vaccinated, and those traveling to Florida talk to their healthcare provider about getting a MenACWY vaccine.”

The guidance suggests insurance providers should cover the cost of the vaccine for anyone outside of Florida whose healthcare provider recommends vaccination. Florida residents can get a free MenACWY vaccine at any county health department during the outbreak, according to the CDC.

Those infected with meningococcal disease should seek medical attention immediately if they experience the following symptoms: high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea/vomiting or a dark purple rash.

“Symptoms can first appear as a flu-like illness, but typically worsen very quickly,” the CDC release read. “People spread meningococcal bacteria to others by sharing respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit). Generally, it takes close or lengthy contact, such as kissing or being near someone coughing, to spread these bacteria.”

Meningococcal disease can affect anyone and is deadly, potentially infecting the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream.


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Florida First Lady Aims to Mobilize a Million Mamas for DeSantis

Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis announced Tuesday that she’s launching a new initiative to get Sunshine State women involved in her husband’s bid for reelection and the state’s growing parental rights movement.

“Mamas for DeSantis will work to support Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reelection campaign as a movement for Florida moms, grandmas, abuelas, nanas, and more to get involved in the re-election campaign,” according to a press release. “With the goal of signing up a million mamas across the state of Florida, this initiative will be the largest movement of parents in Florida history.”

The first lady’s effort will use paid media, direct mail, digital advertising and engagement events across the state, according to the release.

“I am proud to have Casey by my side, and I am grateful for the example she sets for our three children. And now, I am excited to work alongside her,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “We are working every day to make Florida the most pro-parent state in the nation, and Mamas for DeSantis gives a voice to mothers across the state.”

Mamas for DeSantis will support the governor’s recently unveiled DeSantis Education Agenda, which calls on school board candidates to pledge their support to student-first leadership.

“We need more moms and dads standing up for their kids and their communities,” Casey DeSantis tweeted Monday. “I’m excited to see so much energy around the @RonDeSantisFL education agenda. I look forward to these leaders adding their voices to our students-first agenda.”


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Ex-Florida Gubernatorial Candidate Gillum Indicted on Conspiracy, Fraud Charges

Former Florida Democrat gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and an associate were indicted Wednesday on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, and making false statements.

Gillum, 42, and Sharon Janet Lettman-Hicks, 53, were accused of unlawfully soliciting and obtaining funds from various entities and individuals between 2016-19 through false and fraudulent promises and representations that the funds would be used for a legitimate purpose, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Jason R. Coody announced.

The 21-count indictment also alleges that the defendants used third parties to divert a portion of those funds to a company owned by Lettman-Hicks, who then fraudulently provided the funds, disguised as payroll payments, to Gillum for his personal use.

Both defendants were charged with 19 counts of wire fraud. Gillum also was charged with making false statements to the FBI.

Gillum and Lettman-Hicks could face up to 5 years for making false statements, 20 years for conspiracy to commit fraud, and 20 years for wire fraud.

Gillum, who lost to Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2018, told associates he expected to be indicted in federal court as early as Wednesday, NBC News said earlier in the day.

Gillum, in a written statement to NBC News, acknowledged the case.

“I have spent the last 20 years of my life in public service and continue to fight for the people,” Gillum told NBC News. “Every campaign I’ve run has been done with integrity.

“Make no mistake that this case is not legal, it is political. Throughout my career I have always stood up for the people of Florida and have spoken truth to power.

“There’s been a target on my back ever since I was the mayor of Tallahassee. They found nothing then, and I have full confidence that my legal team will prove my innocence now.”

Democrat lawyer Marc Elias and criminal defense attorney David Oscar Markus told NBC News that they would fight to clear Gillum’s name.

“The government got it wrong today. The evidence in this case is clear and will show that Mr. Gillum is innocent of all charges,” the attorneys told NBC News in a joint statement.

“We look forward to putting this case to rest and giving Andrew and his family peace of mind once and for all.”

In May 2019, a federal grand jury subpoena was issued for information on Gillum, his campaign and his political committee.

The subpoena demanded “documents, electronically stored information, or objects” dating back to January 2015 about Gillum, his 2018 gubernatorial campaign and his political committee, Forward Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

In March 2020, Gillum was discovered in a Miami hotel room inebriated and with a man suspected of overdosing on crystal meth. The married father of three then withdrew from public life as a political leader and a paid CNN commentator.


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Federal Judge Expected to Rule on Attempt to Block Florida Law Regarding Woke Teaching

In Tallahassee, Florida, a federal judge is expected to decide later this week whether to block a new state law, backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, that restricts how educators teach race-related concepts in public schools or as it applies to workplace training.

Politico reports that Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker heard on Tuesday arguments and promised an order “in a couple of days” on the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that Florida’s leaders are endeavoring to “canonize” a separate “reality of history.” Politico adds that Democrats have also made claims that the legislation would “whitewash” the teaching of social studies.

While Walker didn’t make a decision, he did say he had “grave concerns” about the plaintiffs’ lawsuit, whose only student defendant is an incoming kindergartner.

The backdrop of the case pertains to the teaching of critical race theory. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines the theory, as its advocates maintain, as a theory  “that racism is inherent in the law and legal institutions of the United States insofar as they function to create and maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites, especially African Americans.”

The group of plaintiffs filed the overall lawsuit on April 22, the day Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Stop WOKE Act.


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LGBT Republicans Slam Biden for Targeting Florida Parental Rights Law

An organization representing LGBT Republicans blasted President Joe Biden for using an executive order to target Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law.

Biden last week signed an executive order advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex individuals.

The White House signing ceremony included rhetoric aimed at Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., and Florida’s law that forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.

Biden even was introduced by an activist who organized protests against Florida’s bill.

“It’s unfortunate that President Biden again used a podium at the White House this afternoon to mislead on and demonize the common sense parental rights law in Florida and other similar bills across the country that protect young children from woke lesson plans around gender and sexual identity,” Log Cabin Republicans said in a statement.

“While some of the executive orders he announced today [Wednesday] are long overdue, LGBT conservatives will not support the federal government trampling over the rights of states to stop Leftist activists from infusing more woke identity politics into kindergarten classrooms.”

Biden’s executive order aimed to curtail the practice of so-called conversion therapy, and prevent youth suicide. It also allowed the homeless to seek shelters consistent with their gender identity.

The president said the order created an “X” gender option on U.S. passports, among other actions.

“I don’t have to tell you about the ultra-MAGA agenda attacking families and our freedoms,” Biden said at the signing ceremony. “Three hundred discriminatory bills introduced in states across this country. In Texas, knocking on front doors to harass and investigate parents who are raising transgender children. In Florida, going after Mickey Mouse, for God’s sake. That’s striking close to home.”

Biden was referring to Florida and The Walt Disney Co. fighting over the Parental Rights in Education law.

The signing included comments from Javier Gomez, an 18-year-old activist who organized protests against the Florida bill. He credited his openly gay fifth grade teacher for helping him understand his identity.

“I fear other students in Florida and across the country will not be able to get the same support because of hateful legislation like the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill,” Gomez said, the Washington Examiner reported. “But my presence here is a testament that we are fighting back.”

Log Cabin Republicans President Charles Moran took exception with Gomez’s comment.

“They’re waxing on Ron DeSantis and the Florida parental rights bill, which they continue to misname,” Moran said, the Examiner reported. “It was somewhat comical that the high schooler they brought up there, who talked about his being in school in Florida and organizing those walkouts, that student isn’t even affected by the legislation.”

Moran noted that the Florida law only affects classroom instruction from and conversations between individual students and teachers.

“There’s a difference between conversations and curriculum,” Moran said, the Examiner reported. “Conversations are not prohibited.”


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Gov. DeSantis Signs Measures to Protect Floridians From Southern Border Crisis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a slew of measures Friday to combat the immigration chaos at the United States-Mexico border. 

The first measure involves the creation of a strike force to fight against human trafficking, human smuggling, and transporting illegal weapons through Florida.

For the second action, DeSantis filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court to impanel a statewide grand jury for the purpose of examining human trafficking.

And the third measure involved DeSantis signing “sweeping” legislation that prohibits Florida residents from aiding and assisting “secretly” resettled illegal immigrants into communities across the state.

“Illegal aliens are being smuggled across the border in record numbers, which the reckless policies of the Biden administration facilitate,” says DeSantis, who’s up for gubernatorial reelection this November.

“Today, Florida has taken additional action to protect our state from the effects of what is a full-fledged border crisis.”

The strike force’s mission from the three-pronged series of DeSantis-backed measures: “Identify and investigate persons and international human smuggling networks that move illegal aliens, particularly children, across the southwest border to more desirable states such as Florida,” according to a governor’s office press release.

Also, the release states that local and state law enforcement agencies will combine resources to fortify the policing unit.

“In the span of just three days, in Northwest Florida, law enforcement interdicted five illegal aliens from Honduras and two from El Salvador who were arrested and charged with human smuggling or solicitation to commit human smuggling,” the release reads.

“The strike force also recovered almost four grams of fentanyl, which is enough to kill nearly 2,000 Floridians.”

Overall, the legislation “prohibits a governmental entity from executing, amending, or renewing a contact with a common carrier if the carrier is willfully providing any service in furtherance of transporting an unauthorized alien into the State of Florida knowing that he or she is an unauthorized alien, except to facilitate the detention, removal, or departure of the unauthorized person from Florida or the United States.”


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Rick Scott to the Rescue

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida has proposed a 12-point plan to rescue America from Joe Biden’s disastrous policies. Rather than waiting for the November midterms, Scott is getting ahead of them and laying out solutions to our current problems and decline, and I break down all 12 points to find out what substantive solutions might be viable.

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