A judge has ruled that a Florida law requiring women to undergo a 24-hour waiting period before getting an abortion can stand. According to the Associated Press, the waiting period law has been involved in court battles for nearly seven years.
Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Gainesville abortion facility challenging the 2015 law which instituted the waiting period. Per the law, women must visit an abortion facility 24 hours prior to obtaining an abortion, then return the next day for the procedure. Dempsey also rejected a request from abortion advocates to delay the law’s implementation until April 30 in order to reschedule appointments; instead, the law went into effect immediately.
In her ruling, Dempsey said that other important decisions like getting married, getting divorced, and buying a gun have waiting periods, so it makes sense that abortions should carry the same weight. “Twenty-four hours is the minimum time needed to sleep on such an important decision,” she wrote.
Abortion advocates claim that the law creates an excessive hardship for women who must travel to get an abortion. It also requires physicians to be available at abortion facilities for longer periods of time. “This is incredibly damaging for women in Florida,” said Rep. Anna Eskamani, who formerly worked at Planned Parenthood. “You have to remember that many Florida counties do not have an abortion provider.”
Dempsey, however, disagreed. “This court’s ruling merely puts the people of Florida in the same position as the people of a majority of States,” she wrote. “This is hardly the sort of irreparable harm that would justify the extraordinary remedy [the] plaintiffs seek.”
While the law was signed by then-Governor Rick Scott in 2015, it was immediately challenged. Over the years, it has been tied up in several back-and-forth court rulings. While the current ruling does allow the law to go into effect, the plaintiffs could still choose to appeal.
The decision was praised by the state’s Catholic bishops. Christie Arnold of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement that said, “The 24-hour reflection period is a reasonable measure that will empower women to make truly informed, deliberate decisions apart from the abortion industry’s pressures.”
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