Florida Supreme Court Blocks Law Mandating Abortion Delay

Court Puts Law Back on Hold While It Decides Whether to Review Lower Court’s Decision

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
April 22, 2016 1:00 pm

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court today put back on hold a law that prevents a woman from getting an abortion for at least 24 hours after visiting her doctor and requires her to make an additional, medically unnecessary trip to the clinic before she can access abortion care.

“We are grateful that the Florida Supreme Court recognizes the financial, medical, and emotional harm this offensive law has been causing,” said Julia Kaye, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “We hope the court will ultimately agree that Florida women are capable of making decisions about their health and their families without political interference. The Florida Constitution tolerates nothing less.”

The mandatory-delay law is just one of a series of onerous laws restricting abortion access in Florida. In late March, Gov. Rick Scott signed into law HB1411, which blocks access to comprehensive reproductive health care from all angles by imposing burdensome requirements on abortion providers, taking away funding for contraceptive care from entities that also provide abortions, and targeting any person or organization that counsels or helps a woman who has made the decision to end a pregnancy.

“We are pleased that the Florida Supreme Court has agreed with the trial court that Florida women should not suffer this burden while there is an ongoing challenge to this unconstitutional law,” stated Nancy Abudu, legal director of the ACLU of Florida. “Forcing women seeking an abortion to make multiple visits that are medically unnecessary especially burdens poor and working women, and is potentially dangerous. We have argued all along that this law was about the legislature creating needless burdens to limit a woman’s access to reproductive care.”

The ACLU, the ACLU of Florida, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Richard Johnson of Tallahassee jointly challenged the law and presented evidence to the court that it causes particular harm to low-income women who have to take additional time off from work, pay for additional travel, and secure additional child care in order to comply with the law’s two-visit requirement.

“Just because some politicians may personally disagree with a woman’s health care choices doesn’t give them license to interfere with her constitutionally protected right to safe and legal abortion,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Today’s ruling ensures Florida women will be able to get the constitutionally protected health care they need, when they need it, without enduring an insulting and potentially dangerous waiting period.”

The law has been in effect since late February, when a state appellate court reversed a lower court order temporarily blocking the law. The Supreme Court’s order today puts the temporary injunction blocking the law back into effect until the Supreme Court decides whether to take up the case.

More details about this case, Gainesville Woman Care, LLC v. State of Florida, can be found at: https://www.aclu.org/cases/gainesville-woman-care-llc-v-state-florida

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