Florida Supreme Court Reminds Politicians That Women Are Capable of Making Their Own Decisions

Every day, people face important medical decisions. When tough choices arise, we consult with our health care providers about the pros and cons of different treatment options. We meditate on our goals and fears. Some of us will turn to family or friends for advice. Some of us will pray.

No one goes to the state capitol building to ask a politician their opinion. 

Yet when it comes to a woman’s decision to end her pregnancy, politicians feel entitled to insert themselves into the equation. We all agree that a woman seeking abortion care, like every other patient, should receive all medically appropriate information. But in dozens of states, legislators demand that a woman who has decided to have an abortion — unlike any other patient seeking any other form of medical care — delay her procedure by a certain amount of time (typically 24 hours or more) after receiving certain state-mandated information. 

In 15 of these states, legislators have gone even further, insisting that a woman receive that mandatory information in-person — thus requiring her to make an additional, medically unnecessary trip to her doctor. These laws are especially burdensome for low-income women who are forced to arrange and pay for double the transportation, double the child care, and double the time off work. They also put victims of domestic violence at risk by making it harder for them to keep their abortion decision confidential, and they force women experiencing a pregnancy-related illness to remain sicker, longer.

Fortunately, in a victory for Florida women and for common decency, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a lower court’s decision blocking the state’s 24-hour mandatory abortion delay law from taking effect while the litigation proceeds. In upholding the preliminary injunction, the court also found that the law likely violates the Florida Constitution’s strong right of privacy. 

How do politicians even justify these insulting, harmful laws? Good question. The state of Florida has argued that it is necessary to "protect[] pregnant women from undergoing serious procedures without minimal private time to reflect” on the decision. 

But pregnant women don’t need politicians to protect them from themselves by micro-managing their schedules.

As the court explained, “a woman can already take all of the time she needs to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy, both before she arrives at the clinic and after she receives the required counseling information.” Thus, in practice, “[t]he Mandatory Delay Law impacts only those women who have already made the choice to end their pregnancies.”

This is not about informed consent. To the contrary, the court observed that the law “turns informed consent on its head, placing the State squarely between a woman who has already made her decision to terminate her pregnancy and her doctor who has decided that the procedure is appropriate for his or her patient.”  

No one goes to the state capitol building to ask a politician their opinion. 

Moreover, if this is really just about ensuring that patients are fully informed, then why is it, the court asked, that “[n]o other medical procedure, even those with greater health consequences, requires a twenty-four hour waiting period in the informed consent process”?   

Politicians apparently think that women seeking abortion care are less capable decision-makers than any other patients. But, as the ACLU argued in court, women don’t need a mandatory “time out” before they can make a decision about their health care. 

The Florida Supreme Court’s decision should serve as a wake-up call to politicians to stop passing laws that have no medical justification and do nothing but insult and burden women seeking abortion care. 

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Anonymous

I wish other people would see it the way you do. I'm struggling with the fact that people who I love, support this administration for the sale of their pro-life agenda even when the rest of their policies affect me and them in so many levels. It makes so sad but then I hear you and I see a ray of hope. Thank you

Edwardtsweeney

Damn right

Anonymous

where are the rights I have? You women never represented us who raised special needs kids can also be abused!
You find you can't go to a shelter why because my son inicinsent person! But the woman's shelter that the woman would see my son without seeing him orknowing him. Thathe wouldn't hurt them!
So we had to stay with the abuser every time he beat us up!
Where are you women that make shelters so handicape can go too!

Emily Bailey

Huh?

Gary

Shelters don't help everyone who request their services, no matter the urgency or the need. They have rules and regulations in abundance to protect them from turning even deserving people away. They of course also have the power to accomodate whoever they wish. Most women's shelters are operated, managed and staffed by women, most do a good job of helping their client residents, yet a few find their authority and their control over their clients is their most important function. In these circumstances the organization is the abuser, just as a menacing spouse is, except the psychological damage caused by an organization meant to help, but instead being abusive, is devastating, it does happen unfortunately.

Anonymous

So sorry to hear that.. Maybe you could call Family Assistance or talk to the family abuse shelter supervisors about where you and your child can receive shelter from abuse, or contact your state representative to discuss the lack of acceptance for you and your handicapped child to receive the same protection all abused people do.

cdozo

It's great that the Florida Supreme Court understands that women are capable of making their own choices. Hooray! And your comment, while off the subject, is valid -- more shelters do need to be handicapped accessible. Keep telling people about it and working on changing it. It's important that handicapped people have a safe place to go if they are being abused. Thank you for bringing it up.

Anonymous

We haven't gotten very far on the needs of abused women with special needs children (or even providing shelter for families with older boys), but it is part of the larger struggle. I've quieted a few loud "prolife" men by asking just how much of their own money they have contributed to assisting mothers who give birth and keep the child. Freedom of choice, adequate support- child care, job training, parenting skills, protection from abusive relationships, adequate women's health care with family planning options are all part of reducing unwanted pregnancies and. Sting for children as well as their mothers.

Anonymous

Dont you just love how the Aclu protects the murder of innocent babies? In Planned Parenthood vs. Casey the Supreme Court upheld 24 hour waiting period. I guess liberals dont care what the SC says unless they support their liberal agenda.

Anonymous

The ACLU protects all of our rights. No picking or choosing. Liberal or Conservative. It is non partisan.

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