State Says Abortion Waiting Period Doesn’t Infringe On Rights

Jul 21, 2016

Trying to move forward with a requirement that women wait 24 hours before having abortions, Attorney General Pam Bondi's office has filed a brief at the Florida Supreme Court saying such a waiting period "does not significantly burden the right to privacy."

The brief is part of a more than year-long legal dispute about a 2015 law that would require 24-hour waiting periods.

A Leon County circuit judge last year approved an injunction that blocked the state from carrying out the law, but the 1st District Court of Appeal in February overturned that ruling.

The Supreme Court agreed in May to take up the case after earlier issuing a stay that at least temporarily halted the waiting-period requirement. In a 49-page brief filed late Wednesday, Bondi's office argued that 1st District Court of Appeal had ruled correctly when it rejected the "faulty injunction" by the lower-court judge.

The brief also said the law does not restrict abortion rights or women's privacy rights. "The new law justifiably protects pregnant women from undergoing serious procedures without some minimal private time to reflect on the risks and consequences of the abortion. … The abortion decision involves deeply personal considerations, and a brief reflection period is a reasonable and minimally intrusive means of ensuring that informed consent to abortion is knowing and voluntary," the brief said.

But in a brief filed in May, abortion-rights advocates asked the Supreme Court to block the law, saying in part that the waiting-period requirement "only imposes greater burden, stigma, and delay -- and communicates the state's condescending message that a woman seeking an abortion, alone among patients, is unable to decide for herself when she is ready to make an informed decision about her medical care."

Justices have not scheduled arguments in the case.