Florida abortion law news: State faces lawsuit over new law requiring 24-hour waiting period

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed HB 633 into law requiring a physician to get informed consent from the woman seeking abortion at least 24 hours before the procedure.Reuters

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Florida and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit on Thursday against the State of Florida over a new law that requires women to wait for 24 hours before getting an abortion.

The lawsuit was filed before the Circuit Court of the Second Judicial Circuit in Leon County a day after Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 633 into law that requires a physician to get informed consent from the woman seeking abortion at least 24 hours before the procedure.

It waives the 24-hour waiting period if a woman seeking abortion can present a restraining order, police report, medical report, or other court order or documentation to show that she is seeking abortion due to rape, incest, domestic violence or human trafficking.

The lawsuit was filed by ACLU on behalf of the Bread and Roses Women's Health Center in Gainesville, Florida, and Medical Students for Choice.

Besides Florida, other defendants in the case are the Florida State Department and Sec. John Armstrong, Florida Board of Medicine and its chair James Orr, Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine and its chair Anna Hayden, and Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and its secretary Elizabeth Dudek.

Florida Republican Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, who sponsored the bill, said the legislation aims to empower women to make an informed decision, versus "a pressured, rushed, unexpected one."

"This isn't changing access; it's not shutting down clinics," she said, according to the Miami Herald.

The ACLU Florida said the law forces women to make an additional, unnecessary trip and creates real hardship for them, requiring additional days off work, more childcare, and extra travel.

"As we warned the governor and legislature, this dangerous law that undermines women's health is also a violation of Florida women's constitutional rights," stated ACLU of Florida legal director Nancy Abudu.

She said the law is an example of how politicians force themselves into decision that should be made by women and their doctors.

"Violations of the Act will subject physicians and health care facilities to disciplinary action, including license revocation, license non-renewal, and monetary fines," the lawsuit said.

Bread and Roses provides surgical abortions up to 13 weeks and six days of pregnancy, dated from the first day of a woman's last menstrual period and medication abortions up to eight weeks from the last menstrual period.

Barbara Zdravecky, president of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, said the 24-hour waiting period violates the constitutional right to privacy in Florida.

"This is an undue burden," Zdravecky said, "particularly on poor women, women of low incomes who are dependent on their jobs and on child care to have to make an appointment in the first place."