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Fla. Senate Sends 24-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill to Governor

Fla. Senate Sends 24-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill to Governor

April 27, 2015 — The Florida Senate on Friday voted 26-13 to approve a bill (HB 633) that would impose at least a 24-hour mandatory delay before a woman can obtain an abortion, Reuters reports.

The state House passed the measure on Wednesday. According to Reuters, the bill now proceeds to Gov. Rick Scott (R), who is expected to sign it. If the measure is enacted, Florida would become the 25th state to impose a 24-hour delay before an abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute (Cotterell, Reuters, 4/24).

Bill Details

The bill would require a woman to meet in person with a physician at least 24 hours prior to having an abortion. Florida already requires women to receive counseling from a physician prior to the procedure (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/23). According to the Tampa Bay Times, the measure, if signed into law, would require women to make at least two trips to an abortion provider to have the procedure (McGrory, Tampa Bay Times, 4/24).

The House on Tuesday approved an amendment to the legislation to waive the delay for women who are survivors of rape, incest, human trafficking or domestic violence. However, the exemptions would only be provided if women could produce certain documentation, such as medical records, police reports or restraining orders (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/23).

According to the Florida Times Union, the state Senate rejected efforts from lawmakers who support abortion rights to include amendments aimed at helping women who could be financially unable to obtain an abortion if they had to make two trips to the clinic. State Sen. Maria Sachs (D) noted that 70% of Florida counties do not have an abortion provider (Menzel, Florida Times Union, 4/24).

Comments

State Sen. Kelli Stargel (R) expressed support for the measure, contending that it "give[s] the women an opportunity to think about" their choice (Reuters, 4/24).

Meanwhile, Sachs disputed claims that the bill "is intended to help women." She said, "Get government out of the examining room. Trust women to make the right decision when it comes to issues that are so personal to her. Trust women to know what is best for themselves and for their families."

Separately, state Sen. Jeff Clemens (D) voiced concern about how the bill requires documentation for rape. "We're going to ask a woman [who's] been through this awful experience to walk in the door and not only admit she's been through that awful experience, but we're going to tell her, 'Prove it.' I hope nobody here thinks that's right," he said (Farrington, AP/Pensacola News Journal, 4/24).

State Sen. Darren Soto (D) also raised questions about whether the bill is legal under the Florida constitution, which protects the right to privacy. "I would not be surprised to see this bill challenged immediately," he said.

Similarly, Laura Goodhue, executive director at Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said that if Scott signs the measure, "advocates for reproductive rights will take whatever steps possible to ensure women's access to health care is guaranteed without delay" (Florida Times Union, 4/24).