Florida high court weighs abortion waiting period

Abortion | Case will test constitutionality of bill modeled after similar laws in 28 states
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 11/02/16, 01:22 pm

The Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday in a case that will determine whether women seeking an abortion must take an extra 24 hours to consider their decision after meeting with an abortionist.

Immediately after Gov. Rick Scott signed the law on June 10, 2015, the ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit on behalf of a Gainesville abortion facility, Bread and Roses, claiming the 24-hour waiting period fettered abortion access.

The law requires the abortionist, “while physically present in the same room,” to offer a woman information on the risks associated with “undergoing or not undergoing” the procedure and the “probable gestational age” of her unborn child—at least 24 hours before the abortion. It temporarily made Florida the 28th state to have a waiting period before an abortion.

The law was set to go into effect on July 1, 2015, but a Leon County judge issued a temporary injunction on June 30. State Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office appealed the injunction, allowing the law to go into effect for one day. Circuit Judge Charles Dawson issued a second injunction on July 2.

A panel of state appeals court judges ruled in February that the 2015 emergency injunction lacked evidence and was “legally insufficient to justify this injunctive relief.” But the Florida Supreme Court stepped in with its own injunction in April and decided to hear the case.

Through a spokesman, Scott declined to comment on the case until the court issues its ruling.

Florida’s heated abortion battle this year included a federal injunction in July against a law that would have blocked Planned Parenthood funding and required annual state inspections of abortion facilities.

In June, state officials lost an attempt to fine Bread and Roses and three Planned Parenthood facilities $2,500 for performing five unlicensed second-trimester abortions. The case cost state taxpayers $58,345, and the facilities also are seeking reimbursements for their attorney fees.

Meanwhile, the pro-life group Abolish Abortion Florida has been collecting signatures for a petition that would ban abortion—and define it as first-degree murder. The group plans to put an amendment on the 2018 ballot.

Samantha Gobba

Samantha reports on the pro-life movement for WORLD Digital.

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