Florida State Court Indicates It Will Uphold Abortion Restriction That Forces Patients to Delay Care

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
March 23, 2022 11:30 am

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida — A Florida state trial court indicated today that it will dismiss a challenge to an abortion restriction that will force patients to delay obtaining this time-sensitive care for at least 24 hours after meeting with a physician. The mandatory delay requirement forces patients to make an additional trip to a clinic to receive care. Since its enactment in 2015, the medically unnecessary restriction has largely been blocked, first by a trial court ruling granting a temporary injunction on the law shortly after enactment and then by a 2017 state supreme court ruling reinstating that injunction after an appellate court briefly allowed it to take effect.

Since the passage of this law, Florida politicians have continued to place hurdles in the path of people seeking abortion care as part of a larger effort to push care out of reach. The state legislature took its most extreme step yet in attacking reproductive freedom earlier this month when politicians passed a ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign any day.

Florida’s mandatory delay law singles out abortion and does not apply to other medical procedures, even those that involve far greater health risks. Florida’s law requires patients to make an additional trip to a clinic, which will force many people to miss work, lose wages, and spend more on transportation and child care. Those without the means to do so could be prevented from getting care entirely. Delaying access to abortion is medically unnecessary and is another tactic designed to take away people’s ability to get care when they’ve decided to have an abortion. Laws that require people to delay care push people to have abortions in later pregnancy, which increases both the cost and the risks of the procedure. In fact, when a similar 24-hour delay law took effect in Mississippi, abortions later in pregnancy increased by 53 percent.

The case, Gainesville Woman Care v. Florida, was brought on behalf of Gainesville Woman Care LLC and Medical Students for Choice by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Florida, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, and Tallahassee attorney Richard Johnson.

In response to the court’s decision, the ACLU, ACLU of Florida, and Center for Reproductive Rights released the following statements:

Julia Kaye, staff attorney, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project:

“This law is an insult to Floridians and their ability to make their own medical decisions. When someone has determined that having an abortion is the best decision for them and their family, politicians should not be in the business of putting unnecessary obstacles in their path, but that is exactly what this law does. And this harmful restriction is just one in a string of laws that Florida politicians have passed to turn back the clock and take away people’s rights to make their own decisions about pregnancy and about the course of their lives. We will continue fighting laws designed to push abortion out of reach in Florida and across this country until every person can get the care they need, regardless of their zip code.”

Daniel Tilley, legal director, ACLU of Florida:

“This law imposes a significant hardship on Floridians that is medically unnecessary, arbitrary, and dangerous. For years, the Courts have agreed that imposing an additional barrier that would delay an individual’s ability to receive the abortion care they need was in direct violation of Floridians’ right to privacy. A person’s private medical decisions should be made in consultation with a doctor they trust, not politicians, and no one should ever be made to delay the care they need. Abortion care should be safe and accessible. Politicians have no right to interfere with Floridians’ private medical decisions.”

Marc Hearron, Senior Counsel, Center for Reproductive Rights:

“This demeaning, intrusive law forcibly delays a person’s access to essential healthcare despite potentially dangerous risks to their health. Politicians should not be dictating a person’s own medical decision of whether and when to end a pregnancy. Abortion access in Florida is in real peril, and this restriction is just another way to push abortion care out of reach and infringe on the rights of Floridians. We will continue to fight to ensure that Floridians can get the care they need without political interference.”

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