Abortion waiting period put back on hold in Florida

Justices put 24-hour waiting period for abortions back on hold
Justices put 24-hour waiting period for abortions back on hold

Florida’s 24-hour waiting period before women can obtain abortions was put on hold again Friday by the state Supreme Court.

In their 5-2 ruling, justices agreed to block enforcement of the waiting period until they decide whether to take up the challenge to the law brought by Gainesville Woman Care and the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

“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,” she added.

The waiting period was approved by the 2015 Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott. But within a day of the measure taking effect last July, a Leon County judge issued an injunction blocking any delay for women seeking abortions.

The state fought that ruling and in February, the First District Court of Appeal ordered the waiting period into place. Clinics around the state have been complying with that decision, said Laura Goodhue, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood in Florida.

Goodhue noted that the 24-hour wait can actually stretch into days or weeks because doctors may not always be on hand to perform abortions at a particular clinic.

Scott and the Republican-led Legislature advanced another law this year that toughens regulations on Florida abortion clinics and bars organizations that perform the procedure from receiving state and local taxpayer dollars.

Planned Parenthood says that law will cost the organization about $500,000 in Florida, with about half the loss coming in Palm Beach County.

The taxpayer-backed Children’s Services Council would be barred from continuing to steer $204,000 in taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood for a teen outreach program.

Planned Parenthood also would lose the $44,600 it receives through the Palm Beach County Health Department for family planning and health programs serving 2,500 lower-income women.