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

"Murder of innocent babies."

I am going to assume, from this phrase, that you believe life begins "at conception." Does that make IVF also the "murder of innocent babies?" Because they're technically conceived ex utero. Or does conception begin at implantation? Or is it when the yolk sac is gone and the fetus is relying on the mother for its nutrients? Some things for you to consider.

Most abortions happen within the first trimester through the administration of pills (orally). This is before the fetus is able to feel pain and well before it would survive outside of the womb.

Anonymous

May I ask how many homeless or unwanted babies you take into your care and/or support?? What are you doing to insure that these babies will be taken care of financially and emotionally if they are born?

Anonymous

Don't you just love how sad lonely trolls are able to join any honest conversation and interject their hate and vitriol. I guess liberals don't care what you have say, because you're an idiot.

Pete Myer

I always wondered how do-called conservatives justify governmyintervention in as private a matter as possible. Conservatism would say keep government out of our lives. The first of the trilogy of cases that led to Roe involved a pharmacist facing jail time for providing contraception to a married couple. Using religion to establish medical guidelines is a slippery slope- look at China's former one child policy- mandatory abortion. Be careful what you wish for.

Anonymou

It always amazes me that the so called Right-to-Lifers only care about the baby until it is born. Most of them support cutting aid to education, child care, and most other social services. I think that the discussion should not be about when life begins, but when life ends. The Right-to-Lifers believe that life ends at birth.

Dan M.

How TRUE!

Kerrie russell ...

I agree. men need to take responsibility for there action . There is a male contraceptive they should take it or shut up. It's our body not there's. We are smart enough to know what we want when.

elisa

does a man need a 24 hour waiting period before killing his sperm by ejaculating into a female who might not want his present? they may as well have tshirts that say SAVE THE SPERM

Anonymous

If you are pro-choice, run for office (contact EMERGE or your local political party.) Work on the campaigns of pro-choice candidates. Work against anti-choice candidates! Thank your elected officials by phone or mail when they vote pro-choice, or just for their being openly pro-choice. Phone or write your anti-choice officials and tell them you are a constituent, that you expect them to represent you, and that you will vote them out if they don't represent you. Petitions are the least effective means of influencing an official.

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