Appeals court panel upholds Florida’s 24-hour waiting period

By Dave Andrusko

appealscourtflorida1reThe 1st District Court of Appeals this morning lifted an injunction that prevented Florida’s 24-hour waiting period from taking effect, the Associated Press reported.

“In its decision, the three-judge panel contended that a circuit judge did not have enough facts or evidence to support blocking the law,” according to the AP .

As NRL News Today reported, at the end of June 2015, Chief Circuit Judge Charles Francis blocked the 24-hour waiting period from going into effect. HB 633, which was strongly supported by the Florida legislature, was scheduled to take effect the following day.

At the the Associated Press’s Gary Fineout reported, in his opinion Judge Francis wrote that state officials had given no evidence to show why the new law is not a burden on privacy rights.

However, as the appeals court judges heard oral arguments February 9, they hinted that they did not have confidence in Judge Francis’ decision.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida challenged the law on behalf of the Gainesville-based abortion clinic Bread and Roses Women’s Health Center. The ACLU argued the law “blatantly” violates the state Constitution, specifically the right to privacy.

But Denise Harle, deputy solicitor general, countered, “The people of Florida did not intend to prevent the Legislature from passing a reasonable law, one that ensures that pregnant women have a reasonable amount of time to make the decision whether to have an abortion.”

The Miami Herald’s Michael Auslen explained at the time of the oral arguments

The judges will decide only whether the injunction can stay in place. The ultimate validity of the waiting period law is tied up in a lawsuit still in circuit court in Tallahassee.

Backdrop:

In arguing before Judge Francis, Blaine Winship, special counsel to the attorney general, offered a number of reasons why HB 633 does not violate the right of privacy. To begin with, he noted that there was nothing in the law that removed or deprived a woman of her right to have an abortion.

“The state wields the police power to protect the health and safety of the people,” he told Judge Francis. “The question of whether there is a 24-hour wait for her to contemplate the full impact and ramifications of her decision is obviously what we’ve been talking about.”

Read the February Issue now!

Read the February Issue now!

He added, according to WGCU’s Evans, “It’s what the Legislature aimed to try to protect, and in that regard, women will still have their privacy, they’ll still have the opportunity to have an abortion if they want to, the only question is whether there will be a twenty four hour waiting period or not.”

Moreover, “Winship pointed to a 2006 Florida Supreme ruling that upheld the informed-consent provision in a 1997 law, the ‘Women’s Right to Know’ Act, which required doctors to explain the medical risks of abortion and to obtain consent from women seeking them,” Evans reported.

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