Florida Judge: Unconstitutional to Wait 24 Hours Before Killing Babies in Abortions

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jan 10, 2018   |   11:58AM   |   Tallahassee, FL

A judge ruled Florida’s 24-hour abortion wait time unconstitutional Tuesday in a ruling that permanently blocked the law.

The AP reports Tallahassee Circuit Judge Terry Lewis said the law violates women’s privacy rights under the Florida constitution.

“Florida law subjects no other medical procedure, including those that pose greater health risks than abortion, to a mandatory delay,” Lewis wrote in his decision.

Signed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2015, the law requires women to wait 24 hours after a consultation with an abortionist before having an abortion. Waiting periods give women time to consider information about the abortion, their unborn baby’s development, risks and alternatives before making a final decision about ending their unborn baby’s life.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Bread and Roses Women’s Health Center, an abortion facility in Gainsville, challenged the law. The abortion groups celebrated the ruing Tuesday, claiming the law was an “insult to women.”

Here’s more from Reuters:

The state constitution includes a directive from citizens to their government to stay out of their personal matters unless there is good reason, Lewis said. “And it’s hard to imagine a more private, personal matter … as the decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy,” he said. …

Asked for a comment on the decision, Florida Governor Rick Scott’s spokeswoman Lauren Schenone said in an email: “We are reviewing the ruling.” The decision affirms that politicians should not interfere with women’s health-care decisions, the ACLU of Florida said in a statement.

Lawyers for the state previously argued for the necessity of a wait time. Citing expert medical testimony, Blaine Winship, a lawyer representing Florida, explained:

… abortion procedures are an “outlier in medical practice” because most other procedures are not performed on the same day that an initial consultation between a doctor and patient takes place.

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“The Legislature has acted to bring abortions in line with standard medical practice,” Winship said. “Not out of hostility to the procedure but out of a legitimate concern that women must have the same opportunity for informed consent as patients have with respect with every other invasive procedure that the field of medicine offers.”

When they adopted the legislation in 2015, members of the Florida legislature pointed out how similar laws in other states have stopped abortions.

“This is not a procedure — it is a life,” said state Rep. Jimmie Smith. Referring to the bill’s author, Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, Smith added, “Representative Sullivan, the greatest consequence of your bill is a beautiful baby.”

Sullivan said she has witnessed the pressure placed upon women — especially by a spouse or a boyfriend — to make a hasty decision about having an abortion.

“I am here today as an advocate for those women who are being pressured,” Sullivan said, according to the News Service of Florida.“I care about the women who have sat in my office. I care about the women who have cried in committee.”

Twenty seven states require that women wait at least 24 hours between an abortion counseling session and the abortion itself. These requirements allow women to process important information about the abortion before going through with it. Waiting periods also can help to protect women from being rushed into making a decision.