ACLU Sues Over Florida Abortion Law Requiring 24-Hour Wait Period
Florida lawmakers passed a bill in April that would require a woman to wait 24 hours before being able to undergo an abortion.
Just one day after Rick Scott signed a 24-hour abortion waiting period bill into law, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the Center of Reproductive Rights have helped filed a lawsuit looking to block it. The plaintiffs in the case are Gainesville Woman Care and Medical Students for Choice.
In April, lawmakers passed a bill that would require a woman to have to wait 24 hours before being able to undergo an abortion. The law, which doesn’t go into effect until July 1, would not only require a woman to wait 24 hours but would also require her to make two doctor's visits within that time frame.
Opponents of the bill say that the law is restrictive to women’s health rights and that it’s designed to discourage women from going through with the procedure, especially low-income women, due to the multiple visits and extra costs it will take. Many women, they say, will have to take days off of work and pay travel expenses to visit a clinic far from where they live just to go through with the required steps.
"For many women, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to schedule an appointment on two consecutive days due to work and/or school schedules, child-care availability, and the need to secure transportation to and from a provider," the suit says. The suit also calls the law "a sweeping restriction on Florida women’s ability to access abortion services, unprecedented in this state."
The law is a violation of a woman’s state constitutional rights, the suit claims, since it violates a woman’s right to privacy and her right to want to undergo the procedure by adding burdens and restrictions.
“All Florida women seeking abortions will suffer irreparable harm if the Act is not enjoined, and because an injunction will serve the public interest, this Court should issue immediate temporary injunctive relief against enforcement of the Act,” the suit reads.
In 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a 24-hour waiting period law enacted in Pennsylvania. This became a foothold for other states to enact their own versions of the law.
In 2011, for example, South Dakota became the first state to pass a law requiring women to wait 72 hours before accessing abortion services.
In all, 26 other states have abortion waiting period laws of some kind. Six of those states have enacted the same law as Florida.
The law does make exceptions for victims of rape, incest, domestic abuse or human trafficking, but only if women show their doctor proof with documents such as a police report, or a restraining order. The lawsuit, however, points out that most victims fail to report such crimes.
Through and through, the lawsuit and opponents of the law claim, the 24-hour waiting period only manages to make life more difficult for women.
"This legislation was created just to put needless financial, professional and personal obstacles between Florida women and their right protected by the Florida constitution to seek an abortion if they so choose," said Nancy Abudu, legal director of ACLU of Florida, via a statement.
“It’s clear that the sole purpose of this law is to make it more difficult for a woman who has decided to have an abortion to get one, and to punish and discriminate against those who do,” added ACLU senior staff attorney, Renée Paradis. “Furthermore, it’s flat-out offensive. A woman who is seeking an abortion has already carefully considered her decision. She doesn’t need politicians to create additional hurdles because they disagree with her.”
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.