The American Civil Liberties Union today will argue before a Florida appeals court challenging a law that would prevent a woman seeking an abortion from obtaining the procedure for at least 24 hours after meeting with her doctor. The compulsory waiting period would force women to make an additional, medically unnecessary trip to the clinic.
“Florida women are fully capable of making decisions about their health and their families without first being subjected to a mandatory, government-imposed ‘time-out,’” said Julia Kaye, a staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.
The law was put on hold in July 2015 after Circuit Judge Charles A. Francis concluded that plaintiffs were likely to succeed in proving that it violates the Florida Constitution. The state of Florida appealed that determination to the First District Court of Appeals.
“We are hopeful the appellate court will continue to block this demeaning measure, which only drives a wedge between a woman and her right to safe, legal abortion,” said Autumn Katz, staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Prior law already requires physicians to provide patients with information about the risks of abortion and of carrying a pregnancy to term when she arrives for her appointment. Under the law being challenged, politicians — not women and their doctors — would determine the appropriate time to provide medical care.
“The mandatory delay introduces a real hardship for many and it will have particularly harsh consequences for low-income women — who will be forced to miss work, lose wages, and pay for additional travel and child care simply to access health care,” said Nancy Abudu, legal director of the ACLU of Florida. “To double the logistical burdens is downright cruel.”
This law is only one of a barrage of political efforts to obstruct a woman’s access to abortion. The Florida Legislature is currently considering bills that would further restrict abortion access in the state, including legislation that would impose medically unnecessary “TRAP” (targeted regulation of abortion providers) restrictions.
The United States Supreme Court is currently reviewing Texas’s TRAP laws in the case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Similar TRAP laws have been struck down or put on hold by courts in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.
Along with the ACLU, this case was brought by the ACLU of Florida and the Center for Reproductive Rights. The plaintiffs are Gainesville Woman Care, LLC, and Medical Students for Choice.
Further information about this case can be found at: https://www.aclu.org/cases/gainesville-woman-care-llc-v-state-florida.
Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.