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24-Hour Abortion Waiting Period Signed Into Law

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Women will have to wait 24 hours before having an abortion under a bill Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed into law today, a reflective period supporters said they hoped would change some women’s minds before ending their pregnancies.

Scott signed the abortion measure along with 54 other bills, including legislation that would allow terminally ill patients to take experimental medicines. Scott also signed into law a measure that revises the rules for the panel that regulates Florida electric rates. He vetoed a bill dealing with home medical equipment providers.

Abortion was the subject of emotional debate during the Legislature’s regular session. Democrats complained the bill was simply an effort to put up roadblocks to infringe on women’s rights to an abortion while Republicans said women should have to wait before making such a major decision.

“One day to reflect upon the risks of abortion, one day to view an image of the unborn child’s ultrasound image, and one day to consult with friends, family and faith are minimal considering the effects that will remain for a lifetime beyond that irreversible decision,” said Sen. Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican and one of the bill sponsors.

Florida will be the 27th state to have a waiting period for abortions when the law takes effect July 1.

The bill (HB 633) does have exceptions for victims of rape, incest, domestic abuse or human trafficking if women present doctors with a police report, restraining order or similar documentation to prove their claim.

Democratic lawmakers who opposed the bill said abortion would become the only medical procedure with a mandated waiting period. Republicans countered that they couldn’t think of any other procedure for which someone could walk into a clinic and be operated on right away.

Groups opposing the waiting period, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and Planned Parenthood, sent Scott a petition last week to veto the bill.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the new law would “shame women.”

“We all want women to have the information and support they need to make a carefully considered decision about a pregnancy,” said Richards in a statement. “But this misguided legislation blocks access to safe medical care for political, and not medical, reasons - which is why medical experts oppose it.”

In 2011, Scott signed a bill requiring women to get ultrasounds before abortions and last year signed a bill that would ban late-term abortions if a doctor determined the fetus could survive outside the womb.

Others bills signed by Scott include:

-♦  The “Right to Try” bill (HB 269) which allows terminally ill patients in Florida to take experimental drugs, even if the medicines don’t have final federal approval. Marijuana isn’t allowed under the new law, though some legislators sought to include it as an option.

♦  A measure that gives Florida’s top health official expanded powers to isolate people suspected of being infected with severe diseases. The legislation (HB 697) also would allow state health officials to use police to enforce an order.

♦  A proposal that subjects state utility regulators to term limits and requires those who lobby the committee that recommends Public Service Commission nominees to register. The bill (HB 7109) would prohibit utilities from changing billing cycles to push customers into higher rate categories.