Sorry, Florida, You Can't Tell Women To Get Their Lady Bits Checked At The Dentist Anymore

At least now and then

Just hours before it was supposed to go into effect -- which seems to be a COMMON THEMETODAY -- a federal judge put a new Florida anti-abortion law on hold, so the state can't cut off funding to Planned Parenthood or go rummaging through the medical records of clinic patients simply for the hell of it. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ordered the state not to cancel any contracts with women's clinics, since the provisions were likely to be ruled unconstitutional anyway. Now Florida may have to do something else to make life miserable for Planned Parenthood, like require MRI scans of all employees every time they pick up their mail. You know, to "protect women's health."

[wonkbar]<a href=""></a>[/wonkbar]Back in March, the Florida Legislature decided to punish Planned Parenthood for its nonexistent baby-parts black market by cutting off all state funding for preventative care like HIV testing and cancer screening at any clinic that also performs abortions, even though (you may have noticed) those services are not abortions, which are already illegal for governments to pay for. Similar bills have passed in other states, since if one state thinks of a novel way to try to squeeze Planned Parenthood out of business, all the other red states want in on the game, too.

Florida's legislature, never content to blend in with the crowd, had to stir in an extra packet of Stupid Mix by helpfully suggesting where else low-income women could go to get their hoo-has looked at:

[S]everal state lawmakers who have insisted that plentiful alternatives exist for reproductive and sexual healthcare have cited a list of health centers that includes dentists, optometrists, and elementary schools.

Well of course they did. The list also included a Salvation Army site, where you can get a pap smear and a cheap couch. Or on a cheap couch.

But for now, all the fun videos of women dropping by optometrists and saying, "Stop staring at my eyes, doc. My breasts are down here" will have to wait. Hinkle's injunction placed a temporary hold on two of three parts of the law that Planned Parenthood had sued the state over. Planned Parenthood estimated that the ban on funding for healthcare services would prevent its Florida clinics from receiving about $500,000 annually -- which would have defunded not only health screenings, but also a program to prevent school dropouts. Those teenagers can learn about staying in school at the Salvation Army just as well.

Hinkle in his ruling said the provision is "based not on any objection to how the funds are being spent ... but solely because the recipients of the funds choose to provide abortions separate and apart from any public funding."

"The Supreme Court has repeatedly said that a government cannot prohibit indirectly -- by withholding otherwise-available public funds -- conduct that the government could not constitutionally prohibit directly," Hinkle wrote.

He also blocked another part of the law that required annual state "inspections" of the medical records of half of all clinic patients, presumably to make sure no baby parts were being sold, or maybe simply to give women using non-abortion services the reassurance that Big Brother was Watching them -- again, for their health! Planned Parenthood estimated that would have led to inspectors rooting through some 35,000 patients' private medical records, looking for god knows what ('bortion crimes!). Remember, this is the same state that tried to bar doctors from asking patients if they have a gun in their home, because Florida cares so much about privacy and constitutional rights.

[wonkbar]<a href=""></a>[/wonkbar]In a weird quirk of How Judicial Review Works, Judge Hinkle left in place a part of the Florida law that was actually declared unconstitutional in Monday's Supreme Court decision throwing out Texas's terrible abortion law. Like the Texas law, the Florida law required doctors performing abortions at clinics to have admitting privileges at local hospitals; since Planned Parenthood's suit didn't specifically challenge that provision, Hinkle didn't address it. Yr Wonkette is Not A Lawyer, but we presume that part of the Florida law is also unenforceable, but maybe one of our readers who is a lawyer can lawsplain whether a separate lawsuit would be needed to get it officially tossed?

Hinkle's injunction will put the two provisions in the Florida law on hold until he issues a final ruling on the case, after which we can probably took forward to Gov. Rick Scott and A.G. Pam Bondi getting the appeals ball rolling. So Planned Parenthood will keep providing routine health services for now, and Florida Republicans will have to go looking for a whole new bunch of regulatory burdens to throw at women's health clinics, for women's own good.

[ABC News / Miami Herald / Palm Beach Post]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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