By Haoming Yang and Sahaily Zazueta
TALLAHASSEE, FL – The American Civil Liberties Union announced its intention this week to “continue fighting laws designed to push abortion out of reach in Florida and across this country until every person can get the care they need, regardless of their zip code.”
The statement comes as a response to a Florida state trial court’s decision to dismiss a challenge to an abortion restriction that was passed seven years ago.
The case, Gainesville Woman Care v. Florida, sought to challenge an abortion restriction that will force patients to delay obtaining an abortion for at least 24 hours after meeting with a physician.
The restriction, enacted in 2015, has previously been blocked by a trial court ruling granting a temporary injunction and by a 2017 state supreme court ruling that reinstated the injunction after an appellate court briefly allowed it.
The mandatory delay requirement, which only applies to abortions, forces patients seeking an abortion to make an additional trip to a clinic to receive medical care.
This requirement, said the ACLU, has the potential to force those seeking abortions to miss work, lose wages, and spend more on transportation and child care. Those without the means to make the additional trip to a clinic in accordance with the mandatory delay requirement could be prevented from receiving care altogether.
Daniel Tilley, the legal director of the ACLU of Florida, stated: “This law imposes a significant hardship on Floridians that is medically unnecessary, arbitrary, and dangerous. For years, the Courts have agreed that imposing an additional barrier that would delay an individual’s ability to receive the abortion care they need was in direct violation of Floridians’ right to privacy.”
Tilley added, “A person’s private medical decisions should be made in consultation with a doctor they trust, not politicians, and no one should ever be made to delay the care they need. Abortion care should be safe and accessible. Politicians have no right to interfere with Floridians’ private medical decisions.”
According to the ACLU, “Delaying access to abortion is medically unnecessary and is another tactic designed to take away people’s ability to get care when they’ve decided to have an abortion.”
The mandatory delay requirement can push people to undergo an abortion later in their pregnancy, which increases the cost and risks. When Mississippi enacted a similar mandatory delay requirement, abortions later in pregnancy increased by 53 percent, said the ACLU.
Julia Kaye, a staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, charged, “This law is an insult to Floridians and their ability to make their own medical decisions. When someone has determined that having an abortion is the best decision for them and their family, politicians should not be in the business of putting unnecessary obstacles in their path, but that is exactly what this law does.”
Kaye said “(T)his harmful restriction is just one in a string of laws that Florida politicians have passed to turn back the clock and take away people’s rights to make their own decisions about pregnancy and about the course of their lives.”
Marc Hearron, senior counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights, argued, “This demeaning, intrusive law forcibly delays a person’s access to essential healthcare despite potentially dangerous risks to their health. Politicians should not be dictating a person’s own medical decision of whether and when to end a pregnancy.”
Hearron added, “Abortion access in Florida is in real peril, and this restriction is just another way to push abortion care out of reach and infringe on the rights of Floridians. We will continue to fight to ensure that Floridians can get the care they need without political interference.”
Florida legislators have continued to pass restrictions on abortion following the passage of the mandatory delay law as an attempt to block access to abortions.