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Fla. Mandatory Delay Takes Effect After State Appeals Temporary Injunction

July 1, 2015 — A Florida law (HB 633) that imposes a 24-hour mandatory delay before an abortion took effect on Wednesday after the state on Tuesday appealed an injunction that would have otherwise temporarily halted the legislation, the Palm Beach Post reports (Stapleton, Palm Beach Post, 6/30).

Law Details

The law requires 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.

The law was amended to waive the delay for women who are survivors of rape, incest, human trafficking or domestic violence. However, the exemptions only will be provided if women can produce certain documentation, such as medical records, police reports or restraining orders.

Legal Challenge

One day after Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed the bill in June, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Florida filed a suit in state court to block the law (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/11).

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs listed several potential violations of the right to privacy guaranteed in the Florida constitution, noting that the need for privacy is particularly important for women in abusive relationships, as they "often are carefully monitored and have limited unaccounted for time." Further, they noted that the law's documentation requirement violated the privacy rights of rape, incest and human trafficking survivors (Palm Beach Post, 6/30).

Injunction Details

On Tuesday, Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Francis granted a temporary injunction that would have stopped the law from taking effect (Palm Beach Post, 6/30).

In granting the injunction, he wrote that state officials had not provided evidence demonstrating why the law is not a burden on privacy rights. Further, he said similar laws in other states were not relevant to the case because Florida has established a broader right to privacy than other states (WPBF News, 7/1).

He wrote, "After an evidentiary hearing, the court has no evidence in front of it in which to make any factual determination that a 24-hour waiting period with the accompanying second trip necessitated by the same is not an additional burden on a woman's right to privacy" (AP/Tampa Tribune, 7/1).

Injunction Blocked

Shortly after Francis issued the injunction, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's (R) office filed a notice that it would appeal the measure. According to the Post, the legal action immediately stayed the injunction, which meant that the law was allowed to take effect as scheduled.

ACLU and CRR asked the judge to lift the stay and reinstate the injunction blocking the law. However, as of Tuesday evening, the stay has not been lifted (Palm Beach Post, 6/30).

Comments

Nancy Abudu, legal director at ACLU of Florida, praised the temporary injunction. "We are very pleased that the court saw this law for what it is: an unconstitutional attack on the right of Florida women to make their own choices about their healthcare, including abortion," she said (AP/Tampa Tribune, 7/1).

Meanwhile, Mona Reis, founder and CEO of the Presidential Women's Center in West Palm Beach, expressed disappointment about the blocked injunction. "I'm so disheartened by this -- so angry and upset for our patients," she said, adding, "There is no reason for this except extreme, extreme motivation by [the] state to make abortion difficult for patients" (Palm Beach Post, 6/30).