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Florida Justices Block 24-Hour Abortion Waiting Period Pending Review

| April 23, 2016

The yellow line, designed to protect against harassment,  indicates the area that people must pass through without stopping, unless they're going into a health center that provides abortion.  (Kim Brookes)

The yellow line, designed to protect against harassment, indicates the area that people must pass through without stopping, unless they’re going into a health center that provides abortion. (Kim Brookes)

A divided Florida Supreme Court temporarily blocked a state requirement that women wait 24 hours before receiving an abortion, cheering abortion rights supporters and drawing new complaints of judicial activism from the law’s backers.


On a 5-2 vote, justices granted a stay of a lower court’s order allowing the 2015 law to take effect. The Supreme Court said it would keep the stay in place while it decides whether to review the decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal.

Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente, James E.C. Perry and Peggy Quince — who form the court’s more liberal majority — backed the stay. Conservative Justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston opposed it. Neither side explained its reasoning for the decision, which is not unusual on procedural matters.

But the ruling could indicate where the court is leaning on the matter. Courts generally issue stays when they believe there is a good chance the party asking for the move will ultimately win the case.

“We are pleased that the Florida Supreme Court has agreed with the trial court that Florida women should not suffer this burden while there is an ongoing challenge to this unconstitutional law,” said Nancy Abudu, the legal director of the ACLU of Florida. “Forcing women seeking an abortion to make multiple visits that are medically unnecessary especially burdens poor and working women and is potentially dangerous.”

The law, passed by the GOP-dominated Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2015, requires women to wait 24 hours after meeting with their physician to talk about an abortion before undergoing the procedure. A women’s health center, the ACLU and other abortion-rights supporters sued to overturn the waiting period.

A trial court blocked the law from taking effect, but the state appealed the decision to the district court, where a three-judge panel overturned the lower court’s injunction in February. The groups challenging the law then appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

Friday’s ruling added more fuel to a growing debate about the role of the Supreme Court in state government. The court remains one of the few remaining obstacles to conservative policy in a state where Republicans control the Legislature, the Cabinet and the governor’s office.

In a statement responding to the ruling, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli laced into the court.

“In my opinion, this has been one of the most activist and overreaching State Supreme Courts in recent memory,” said Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island. ” … It appears that several of our Justices seem to believe it is their job to invalidate any action of the legislature, regardless of the law and constitution. I do hope that our next appointees will have a better understanding and appreciation for the true role of our Courts.”

–Brandon Larrabee, News Service of Florida

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12 Responses for “Florida Justices Block 24-Hour Abortion Waiting Period Pending Review”

  1. Deborah Susswein says:

    Waiting periods for criminal background checks for prospective gun owners makes sense. But it doesn’t for women seeking abortions–they are not criminals but are treated as such with this law. Other personal decisions, including the right to die, should be made by the person in question because ultimately it’s about that person’s life, no one else’s. Other people are affected by these decisions, but not criminally. There are tough emotional, religious and spiritual issues that are triggered in family and loved ones, but it is still and always about the person experiencing the challenging life transition. What happened to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”? The legal definition: “An inalienable right enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, in addition to life and liberty; the right to pursue any legal activity as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others.” That says it all.

  2. Mondexian Mama says:

    The anti abortionists claim to be pro life,but they are only pro birth. Once the child is born,the antis could care less what happens to the kid,they’re too busy smugly patting themselves on the back for saving a life.
    In reality they are probably condemning both mother and child to a harsh life. An unwanted child is a tragedy not only for the child,but for society in general. Instead of tithing to the church,the xians should be tithing to various agencies that serve unwanted children.God would prefer that I’m sure.
    If the antis feel so strongly about abortion they should adopt some of these unwanted children. Even better, they should google the story about the Catholic Church wrongful death law suit.

  3. Mark says:

    So, you have a “right to life” unless you are the child of a mother who wants to kill you.

  4. Geezer says:

    Abortion is an awful practice when used as birth control.

    But in cases of rape or incest, a threat to the mother’s life, and when
    a fetus is malformed, the procedure becomes more understandable,
    and ultimately necessary.

    The constant here: the unborn child is always the victim, and has yet no
    voice to defend itself.

    Regardless of one’s income status, effective birth control should be available
    to all women, and never priced out of reach–free if need be.

  5. YankeeExPat says:

    I’ll say it now as I have said it before!

    If men could get pregnant, there would be no encumbrance or 24 hour waiting periods. Abortions would be available at Jiffy Lube, Hair Cuttery and Gander Mountain. And if technology permitted it, at the RedBox Kiosk in the Winn-Dixie parking lot.

  6. Keeping It Real says:

    Unwanted unplanned pregnancies have been happening for as long as men and woman had been having sex. You will not and cannot stop it. And with that said, woman have had the option to abort now for several decades. We are still seeing abused and neglected children, we are still finding babies in dumpsters and toilets and our foster care and juvenile systems are overloaded, overcrowded and overused. Take away the right to abort and just watch all of the above mentioned situations worsen 10 fold. Be careful what you wish for, the result could be much worse. Just sayin!

  7. Deborah Susswein says:

    Thank you, YankeeExPat, for your response. It’s still a man’s world.

  8. Mondexian Mama says:

    I’ll go ya one better Ex Pat. If priests could get pregnant abortion would be a sacrament.

  9. Sherry says:

    YankeeExPat. . . LOL! You have an excellent point! Although, abortion is most certainly NO laughing matter, not at all. . . let’s remember “Hobby Lobby” who has no “religious” objection to their insurance company paying for Viagra type drugs for men to “get it up”, while at the same time. . . they do not want their insurance company paying for women’s “morning after pill”.

    ALL birth control pills and devices should be covered by ALL health insurance. Abortion is a decision that should be made by a woman and her doctor. . . within the constraints of Federal law. . . period! Mondexian MaMa makes an excellent point. . . where are the voices and taxes needed by the DCF when women are forced to have children they simply cannot support? Often the “right to lifers” completely disappear once birth happens. All they really support is “right to birth”.

  10. jasonb says:

    The supreme court has ruled on this, abortion is legal. You can’t stop or hinder a woman from having a legal procedure.

  11. confidential says:

    Correct Yankee ex Pat!!

  12. Sherry says:

    Dear jasonb. . . I most certainly wish you were right! The problem is that the Florida legislature and many other states are doing everything they can to chip away at the Supreme Court ruling and close down access to legal abortion by trying to pass laws like the one discussed in this article. In addition, they are “trumping” up completely FALSE stories of body parts being sold so they can close Planned Parenthood and other health clinics.

    Make no mistake. . . the religious far right is constantly doing everything in their power to completely stop woman’s rights over their own bodies and lives!

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