Seven faith leaders in South Florida and Tampa are suing statewide elected attorneys, from the Attorney General Ashley Moody to the State attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle of Miami-Dade County, for Florida’s new abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Clergy from various religious practices, including Reform Judaism, Buddhism, Episcopalianism, Unitarianism and the United Church of Christ, presented five lawsuits Monday with 11th Judicial Circuit. All contain the prohibition (HB 5) violates the constitutionally established rights to freedom of expression, religious practice and the separation of Church and State.
The complaints also refer to the Florida Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1998which among other things protects against laws that “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.”
“Since time immemorial, the question of when a fetus or potential fetus becomes a life and how to value maternal life during pregnancy has been answered according to religious belief and belief,” the lawsuits say. “HB 5 codifies one of the possible religious views on the matter, and in its operation imposes serious burdens on others (beliefs, including those of the plaintiffs).”
The plaintiffs are asking for an immediate suspension of the state’s enforcement of the law and for the law to be declared unconstitutional.
“For decades, Catholic bishops and the evangelical right wing have claimed a singular religious ground on the issue of abortion rights and have sought to label anyone who opposes their views as ‘secular.'” , there are millions of Americans whose deeply held religious beliefs, speech and behavior are substantially affected by restrictive abortion bans like HB 5,” said the University of Pennsylvania political science professor. Marci Hamilton. Hamilton represents the plaintiffs alongside a handful of attorneys at the New Jersey firm Spiro Harrison and based in Chicago Jayaram Act.
“Religious freedom must protect the religious rights and beliefs of all citizens, not just those who oppose women’s right to choose.”
The plaintiffs are the rabbi Robyn Fisher of Beth Or Miami, Rabbi Gayle Pomerantz of Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach, Rabbi Jason Rosenberg of Congregation Beth Am in Tampa, Lama Karma Chotso of the Open Awareness Buddhist Center in Miami, Rev. Chief Tom of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Miami, Rev. Laurie Hafner from Coral Gables United Church of Christ and an unnamed priest from the Episcopal Church of Miami-Dade.
The lawsuit follows the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in June overturn the precedents established through Roe v. Wade and give states the power to restrict or outright ban abortion.
Florida’s new law, which includes no exception for victims of rape, incest or human traffickingwas among the strictest abortion bans in the nation when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the measure in April Shortly after a draft of the pending Supreme Court decision was leaked, GOP lawmakers across the state expressed interest in passing to full ban next year.
“We now have the will and we have the votes in the House to pass legislation that will ban abortion in the great state of Florida for life,” Deltona said. Webster Barnabywhich presented to Texas-style “heartbeat” ban last session that would have banned abortions after about six weeks, he said in May.
The bill died without a single committee hearing.
Hearing the lawsuits, Moody issued the following statement: “To be very clear, terminating a pregnancy at 15 weeks requires severing, limb by limb, a baby, which the medical evidence has shown is likely to feel pain. Undoubtedly, it is newsworthy that these religious organizations are suing to challenge Florida’s ban on this practice, however we will continue to defend the state statute as it is the responsibility of the Florida Attorney General’s office .
The new lawsuit joins others challenging HB 5 now in the legal process by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida i Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor.
Late last month, a Democratic attorney and candidate for attorney general Daniel Uhlfelder entered as co-counsel in the Boynton Beach synagogue’s lawsuit, which cites protections for abortion under Jewish law if it is “necessary to protect the health, mental or physical well-being of the woman.”
The new abortion law, which came into effect on July 1, allows abortion after 15 weeks if the mother’s life is at risk or if two doctors agree there is a fetal abnormality.
Defendants in the five new lawsuits include Moody, Rundle and attorneys for the state Philip Archer, David Aronberg, Thomas Bakkedahl, Bruce Bartlett, Larry Basford, Ginger Bowden Madden, Ed Brodsky, Jack Campbell, John Durrett, Amira Fox, William Gladson, Brian Haas, Brian Kramer, RJ Larizza, Melissa Nelson, Harold Pryor, Dennis Ward, Andrew Warren i Monique Worrell.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to include a statement from the Attorney General’s Office.