Florida abortion ban violates Jews’ religious freedom, lawsuit says

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FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators protest near the Supreme Court over abortion rights in Washington

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) – Florida’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy violates the religious freedom of Jews because Jewish law requires the procedure in some cases, a Boynton Beach synagogue said in a lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed in state court on Friday by Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor, also says that the abortion ban violates the right to privacy guaranteed by the state constitution.

“Our office is confident that this law will ultimately withstand all legal challenges,” a spokesman for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said in an email.

The U.S. Supreme Court established a right to abortion nationwide in its landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, but a draft opinion leaked last month suggests that the court’s Republican-appointed majority is poised to overturn that law.

The synagogue said Florida’s law, which DeSantis signed in April, violated the state constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom.

“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 said. “In Jewish law, abortion is necessary if required to protect the health, mental or physical well-being of the women or for many other reasons not permitted (by Florida’s law).”

The lawsuit also said that the state’s constitution guarantees a right to abortion, citing an earlier ruling by the state’s highest court. A group of Florida abortion providers, including affiliates of Planned Parenthood, brought a similar challenge in a separate lawsuit earlier this month.

Florida is one of 11 states in which high courts have recognized that the state constitutions protect abortion rights, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

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Other Republican-led states around the country are preparing to pass new restrictions on abortion, while some Democratic-led states have moved to pass laws protecting those who help women from other states obtain abortions.

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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