ACLU and Center for Reproductive Rights File Lawsuit to Block Florida Law Forcing Mandatory Wait, Additional Visits for Abortion

Unconstitutional law is medically unnecessary, designed to make abortion access more difficult

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
June 11, 2015 9:45 am

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NEW YORK—The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Florida, and the Center for Reproductive Rights have asked a state court to block a new law that would force a woman seeking an abortion to wait at least 24 hours after visiting the clinic to obtain care, delaying her abortion and forcing her to make an additional, unnecessary trip. This law creates a real hardship for women, requiring additional days off work, more childcare, and extra travel.

“It’s clear that the sole purpose of this law is to make it more difficult for a woman who has decided to have an abortion to get one, and to punish and discriminate against those who do,” said Renée Paradis, senior staff attorney for the ACLU. “Furthermore, it’s flat-out offensive. A woman who is seeking an abortion has already carefully considered her decision. She doesn’t need politicians to create additional hurdles because they disagree with her.”

Notably, this law does not provide women with any additional information they need to make their decisions. Prior law already required physicians to provide patients with information about the risks of abortion and of carrying a pregnancy to term. The only result of this law is to delay – or prevent – a woman who has already decided to have an abortion and force her to make an additional, unnecessary trip to the clinic. For a low income woman, or any woman, who has difficulty getting time off work, arranging for travel costs and paying for additional childcare, this law is a significant obstacle.

“As we warned the governor and legislature, this dangerous law that undermines women’s health is also a violation of Florida women’s constitutional rights,” stated ACLU of Florida legal director Nancy Abudu. “This law is just the latest example of politicians forcing themselves into decisions that should be made by women and their doctors. This legislation was created just to put needless financial, professional and personal obstacles between Florida women and their right protected by the Florida constitution to seek an abortion if they so choose.”

New polling shows that most Americans identify as pro-choice and that 7 and 10 say that a woman has decided to get an abortion should be able to do so without additional hurdles.

“Women are fully capable of making thoughtful decisions about their lives, health, and families without interference from politicians seeking to advance an agenda,” said Autumn Katz, staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “We are confident this demeaning measure will be struck down as a blatant violation of the state’s strong constitutional protections for women’s rights.”

The law also puts women’s health at risk. Its requirements apply even during a medical emergency that threatens a woman’s health. The law provides only a very narrow exception for when a woman’s life is at immediate risk. It would still force a 24-hour delay if a woman needed an abortion to prevent harm to her health, but she wasn’t in immediate risk of dying.

The plaintiffs in this case are Bread and Roses, a Gainesville reproductive health care provider, and Medical Students for Choice, an organization of medical students dedicated to making reproductive health care, including abortion, a part of standard medical education and residency training.

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