Florida Synagogue Sues Over State's 15-Week Abortion Ban, Argues it 'Violates Religious Freedom'

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with no exception for rape or incest, into law. It is set to take effect July 1

Abortion rights protest
Photo: Sergio Flores For The Washington Post via Getty

A Florida synagogue is suing the state's new law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks, claiming it violates the "privacy rights and religious freedom" of women.

The lawsuit was filed Friday by the Jewish Congregation L'Dor Va-Dor of Boynton Beach in hopes of blocking the ban, which is set to take effect July 1 after being signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

"For Jews, all life is precious and thus the decision to bring new life into the world is not taken lightly or determined by state fiat," the lawsuit states, per the Miami Herald. "In Jewish law, abortion is required if necessary to protect the health, mental or physical well-being of the woman, or for many other reasons not permitted under the act [the new law]."

"As such, the act prohibits Jewish women from practicing their faith free of government intrusion and thus violates their privacy rights and religious freedom."

Additionally, court documents state that the abortion ban "threatens" Jewish people and is failure to maintain separation of church and state.

"Our office is confident that this law will ultimately withstand all legal challenges," a spokesman for DeSantis told Reuters following Friday's lawsuit.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holds up a 15-week abortion ban law after signing it on April 14, 2022, in Kissimmee, Fla. A synagogue claims in a lawsuit filed, that a new Florida law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks violates religious freedom rights of Jews in addition to the state constitution's privacy protections
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In April, DeSantis signed the restrictive abortion ban. Under the new law, abortions are banned after a fetus reaches a gestational age of 15 weeks with only two exceptions: "a fatal fetal abnormality" or "serious risk" to the pregnant person. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

"Life is a sacred gift worthy of our protection, and I am proud to sign this great piece of legislation which represents the most significant protections for life in the state's modern history," DeSantis said in a statement at the time.

The bill initially passed in Florida's legislature on March 3. Democrats proposed over a dozen amendments to the bill, including requesting an exception for rape and incest, which ultimately failed, according to CNN.

In a statement released after the bill's approval, Florida state Democrats called it "one of the most extreme and anti-freedom bills to ever pass" the state's legislature and "a direct assault on the people of Florida and our constitutional rights."

Barring legal challenges, the law is set to take effect on July 1. Planned Parenthood of Greater South, East and North Florida has also vowed to take action.

"This abortion ban is an attack on our most fundamental freedoms — the right to control our own bodies, our own futures," Stephanie Fraim, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida said in a statement. "For politicians like Ron DeSantis to put themselves between patients and health care providers making personal medical decisions is outrageous. If these politicians think the fight against this abortion ban is over they are sadly mistaken. We won't rest until our rights are restored."

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