Leon County 2nd Circuit judge Angela Dempsey reversed a precedent, ordering that a 24-hour hold time must be put in place between the time a pregnant woman seeks in-person counseling regarding abortion and when the procedure is conducted.
The 24-hour hold was initially brought into law in 2015 and requires that the physician who performs an abortion procedure, or the physician referring a patient to an abortion performing doctor, must provide information to a pregnant woman about the “nature and risks of undergoing or not undergoing the proposed procedure.”
Bread and Roses Women’s Health Center, a Gainesville women’s clinic, objected to the law shortly after it took effect while Rick Scott was governor of the state. In prior court sessions, an injunction was placed on the measure, removing the time-sensitive requirement.
The state’s lawyers argued in court documents that the law built on previous informed-consent requirements, which involve information that women must receive before having abortions, News Service Florida reported. They wrote in the Feb. 8 motion for summary judgment 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.
The court’s order has no bearing on the regulatory effects of the 15-week abortion restriction that recently landed on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk.
Bill sponsor Sen. Kelli Stargel spoke throughout the most recent Legislative Session of her efforts to strengthen laws to protect unborn children.
“I never dreamed I’d be standing here today, not just giving parental notice, but actually being able to save the life of babies that are past 15 weeks of gestation. God is so good,” Stargel said.
The bill, which would take effect July 1 if signed by DeSantis, closely resembles a Mississippi law that is under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
While the bill received near-unanimous support from the Florida GOP, as well as the national Republican party at large, Democrats were quick to condemn the move.
“We may not win this battle, but the women of Florida are not done with this fight,” Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book said. “This is the beginning, not the end.”