February 16, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In a victory for abortion access, the Florida Supreme Court today blocked a law that prevents a woman who has decided to have an abortion from obtaining the procedure for at least 24 hours after meeting with her doctor and forces her to make an additional, medically unnecessary trip to the clinic. In its decision, the court held that the law must be subject to the highest level of judicial scrutiny as the litigation proceeds. 

This lawsuit was brought on behalf of a Gainesville abortion clinic and Medical Students for Choice by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Florida, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Tallahassee attorney Richard Johnson, who argued that the mandatory delay law violates the robust privacy protections in the state constitution.

“The court’s decision resoundingly confirms what Floridians already knew — politicians have no business interfering with a woman’s private health care decisions, including the decision to have an abortion,” said Julia Kaye, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, who argued the case before the Florida Supreme Court. “This decision is a wake-up call to Florida politicians to stop passing laws that do nothing but insult and burden a woman seeking abortion care.”

The mandatory delay law went into effect in late February when a state appellate court reversed a lower court order putting the law on hold.  Two months later, the Supreme Court reinstated the temporary injunction while it considered the lower court decision. With today’s ruling, the law will be blocked from taking effect throughout the course of the litigation, which could take years.

“Today’s ruling is a win for Florida women,” said Nancy Abudu, legal director of the ACLU of Florida. “The burdens placed on a woman seeking an abortion by this mandatory delay law are medically unnecessary, potentially dangerous, and disproportionately burden poor and working women. This law had one purpose: to limit a woman’s access to her constitutionally-guaranteed medical care. We are pleased that the court has agreed.”

“Florida women don’t need politically motivated delays when they have made the decision to end a pregnancy,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Decisions about a woman’s future, health, and family do not belong in the hands of politicians who know nothing of her personal circumstances. Women are capable decision makers and we will stand with Florida women until this law is permanently struck down.” 

More about this case can be found: https://www.aclu.org/cases/gainesville-woman-care-llc-v-state-florida

This release can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/news/florida-supreme-court-upholds-block-states-24-hour-mandatory-delay-abortion

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