On Friday, the Florida Supreme Court placed an injunction on the state’s 24-hour abortion waiting period, barring the controversial law from being enforced. The waiting period, which requires women to visit a provider, in person, to receive counseling a full day before undergoing an abortion, was signed into law last summer by Florida’s humanoid governor, Rick Scott.
Since its passage, the controversial law has bounced around Florida courts. According to the Tampa Bay Times, it was in effect for a day before an emergency injunction prevented enforcement. The emergency injunction was overturned in February 2016 when the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee ruled that the initial injunction was “legally insufficient to justify this injunctive relief.” All of the judges on the 1st District Court were appointed by either Scott or former governor Jeb Bush, and are staunchly pro-life.
In February, the Times reported:
“In the abortion context as in any other, injunctive relief requires competent, substantial evidence to support the necessary findings of fact,” the judges — Bradford Thomas, Susan Kelsey and William Stone —wrote.
The emergency injunction was granted after Bread and Roses Women’s Health Center, a Gainesville-based clinic, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida sued the state, claiming that the law violates privacy and places an undue burden on Florida’s women.
The lawsuit has yet to be heard by any of Florida’s courts, so far the legal wrangling has focused on injunctions preventing the law from going into effect. Today’s 5-2 Supreme Court ruling will remain in effect until the justices decide whether or not to hear the challenge.
In the last few years, Florida’s women have seen increasing encroachment on their abortion rights. Between Scott’s election and a Republican supermajority in the legislature, numerous restrictions have been passed, including SB1722, an omnibus TRAP bill. Florida law also requires an ultrasound before an abortion can be obtained.
The Guttmacher Institute estimates that 73 percent of Florida’s counties do not have an abortion clinic, leaving 22 percent of the state’s women without a provider. The unserved counties are largely rural and the Center for Reproductive Rights argues that Florida’s waiting period targets, “women of color [and] low-income women,” who largely reside in those counties.
Image via AP.