Leon County 2nd Circuit judge Angela Dempsey dismissed a legal challenge filed by a women’s clinic over the upholding of a 24-hour hold time that must be put in place between the time a pregnant woman seeks in-person counseling for abortion and when the procedure is conducted, claiming that other medical procedures have similar waiting periods.
Dempsey initially reversed a precedent in late March following a seven-year-long legal battle, ordering that a 24-hour hold time must be put in place between the time a pregnant woman seeks in-person abortion counseling and when the procedure is actually 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.”
“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.
Former governor Rick Scott signed the bill into law in June 2015. The ACLU of Florida and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed the challenge the following day on behalf of Gainesville’s Bread and Roses Women’s Health Center.
Dempsey’s ruling has drawn the ire of some, including Rep. Anna V. Eskamani, who formerly served as a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood.
“I cannot stress enough the dangers of this law and how medically unnecessary it is,” said Eskamani. “The intention is to shame women who have made the decision to terminate their pregnancy and force them through politically motivated barriers. For some, a 24-hour delay may seem easy to overcome, but for others, it could mean additional time off work, childcare costs, and transportation barriers.”
Meanwhile, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops praised the decision.
“The 24-hour reflection period is a reasonable measure that will empower women to make truly informed, deliberate decisions apart from the abortion industry’s pressures,” Christie Arnold, the organization associate for social concerns and respect life, said in a news release.