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Florida Judge expected to back 24-hour waiting period

by | Mar 24, 2022

By Dave Andrusko

It’s all tentative, but the long, long pro-abortion campaign against Florida‘s 24 hour waiting period is finally moving in the right direction.

Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida writes

TALLAHASSEE — A Leon County circuit judge indicated Wednesday she will uphold a 2015 state law that would require women to wait 24 hours before having abortions, opponents of the law said.

Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey held a hearing on a motion by Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office to reject a constitutional challenge to the law. Dempsey had not issued a written ruling Wednesday afternoon.

The Republican-controlled Legislature and then-Gov. Rick Scott approved the law, which is aimed at requiring women to wait 24 hours after initial clinic visits before having abortions. The Florida Supreme Court in 2017 approved a temporary injunction against the law, but the fight has continued in lower courts.

Needless to say, pro-abortionists were not happy. “The court’s decision to allow the mandatory waiting period to take effect is another blow to reproductive freedom in Florida,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement Wednesday. “Courts have already said this law serves no purpose but to undermine patients’ autonomy and impede their personal medical decisions.”

Not so says the state. In a February 8 motion for summary judgment, they argued that the 24-hour waiting period would “allow women to process the information received and fully consider what is a life-changing decision.

“Florida has a compelling interest in promoting informed consent for abortions regardless of the stage of pregnancy, and a 24-hour waiting period is the shortest reasonable time to assure that women will be positioned to consider the required disclosures away from the pressures of a doctor’s office,” the motion said.

Passed in 2015, opponents, including Gainesville Woman Care, LLC wasted no time in challenging the law. Part of their challenge relied on an old reliable argument: that it violated a privacy right in the Florida Constitution.

That kicked off a lengthy series of decisions at various levels of the judiciary, previously reported on in NRL News Today. Saunders summarized the steps when he wrote

Then-Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Francis issued a temporary injunction against the law, a move that was later backed by the Supreme Court. The injunction has largely blocked the law.

In 2018, then-Circuit Judge Terry Lewis issued a summary judgment that said the law was unconstitutional. But that decision was overturned in 2019 by a panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal, sending the dispute back to circuit court.

While the Supreme Court in 2017 backed the injunction in a 4-2 decision, the court has become far more conservative during the past three years after the retirements of longtime Justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince.

Justice Jorge Labarga is the only member of the majority in the 2017 ruling who remains on the court. Meanwhile, current Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justice Ricky Polston dissented in 2017 and continue to serve on the court.

A full trial has been scheduled for April on Attorney General Moody’s request for summary judgment.

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