In a 4-2 decision, the Florida Supreme Court blocked legislation passed and signed by pro-life Gov. Rick Scott in 2015 mandating women wait 24 hours between first visiting an abortion clinic and having an abortion, CBS Miami reported.
“In this case, the state failed to present any evidence that the mandatory delay law serves any compelling state interest, much less through the least restrictive means, and, therefore, the trial court correctly concluded that there is a substantial likelihood that the mandatory delay law is unconstitutional,” stated Justice Barbara Pariente in a written document, according to CBS Miami.
The reason the legislation was blocked by the higher court was “substantial likelihood” of being ruled unconstitutional according to the Florida State Constitution, the Miami Herald stated. The Orlando Sentinel said that after the law passed in 2015, the Gainesville Woman Care Clinic, an abortion facility, and American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against it.
“Because the right of privacy is a fundamental right within Florida’s constitution, this Court consistently has required that any law intruding on this right is presumptively unconstitutional and must be justified by a ‘compelling state interest’ which the law serves or protects through the ‘least restrictive means,’” wrote Justice Barbara Pariente, the Miami Herald reported.
“Today we make clear, in Florida, any law that implicates the fundamental right of privacy, regardless of the activity, is subject to strict scrutiny and is presumptively unconstitutional,” the ruling elaborated as reported by the Orlando Sentinel.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who has previously signed pro-life bills including defunding Planned Parenthood in Florida, signed the legislation, House Bill 633, into law in June of 2015, the National Right for Life reported. However, lower courts blocked the law from going into effect. The state appealed to Florida’s First District Court of Appeals, who ultimately allowed the law to go into effect.
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Blaine Winship, special counsel to the Florida Attorney General, stated the bill does not violate privacy laws outlined in the Florida Constitution. Winship noted the law did not prevent a woman from going through with an abortion, it just ensured that there was a 24-hour waiting period in place.
“The state wields the police power to protect the health and safety of the people,” Winship said, according to the National Right for Life. “The question of whether there is a 24-hour wait for her to contemplate the full impact and ramifications of her decision is obviously what we’ve been talking about.”
Winship also brought up a 2006 Florida Supreme Court ruling that upheld the state Women’s Right to Know Act, which requires abortion facilities to tell women about the risks of abortion and alternatives available to her, according to WJXT/News 4.
Pro-life groups argue that these waiting periods allow women to process this information before going through with the abortion. They also can help to protect women from being rushed into making a decision.
Winship continued: “It’s what the Legislature aimed to try to protect, and in that regard, women will still have their privacy, they’ll still have the opportunity to have an abortion if they want to, the only question is whether there will be a 24-hour waiting period or not.”
While the legislation is a starting point in the crusade to protecting life, pro-lifers everywhere await the day when these abortion centers will be forever closed, and there will be no need for waiting periods for procedures that do not enhance quality of life for either the mother or the child, but end innocent lives.