Judge gives state 2 months to defend abortion waiting period

abortion-counselling-Florida

If the state thinks a law requiring women to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion is constitutional, it needs to prove it, a Tallahassee judge said during a Wednesday hearing.

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis—a 28-year veteran of the bench—gave the Attorney General’s Office 60 days to develop evidence to counter a Supreme Court decision this February temporarily halting enforcement of the waiting period, passed in 2015.

Opponents say delays could lead to victims of domestic abuse being forced to forgo an abortion, or cause additional emotional distress for women who have a doomed pregnancy. Proponents counter the waiting period is necessary because the decision can’t be undone.

Julia Kaye, the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer representing a Gainesville women’s clinic, later told reporters the “mandatory timeout” was an “insulting law,” and that Lewis’ move meant “Florida women will just have to wait a little longer for justice.”

Deputy Solicitor General Denise Harle had argued that the law doesn’t create significant burdens for women and was the “least intrusive” way to achieve a “compelling state interest.”

Harle suggested that evidence offered might include details of similar laws in other states, for example.

But the Supreme Court said there’s a strong likelihood that a lower court will determine the law is unconstitutional because the state had offered no evidence that the law in fact does address a compelling state interest.

(Background from The Associated Press, reprinted with permission.)

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected]


One comment

  • Kendra Jowers

    July 19, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    You cannot do indirectly what you can’ t do directly. It strikes me that in the absence of a medical justification (and how long has the state now had to come up with such a justification?), women cannot be forced to wait before a medical procedure is conducted in the hope that certain religious individuals’ wishes will come true that she changes her mind. It is quite plainly an attempt to impose additional regulatory burdens that will hinder a woman’s ability to get a procedure the constitutionality of which has been long and repeatedly upheld.

    I understand that those on the right don’t like the fact that abortion is a right. That is, as some might say, a tough nugget. There are similarly rights that those on the left might find distasteful, such as an individual right to bear arms. To the extent that these rights are clearly established by the federal courts, it is inappropriate for the legislature or anyone else to try to impose backdoor ways of curtailing them, making them unduly burdensome, etc. That includes abortion.

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