A Florida court has overturned a circuit judge’s ruling that women should not be expected to adhere to a waiting period before obtaining an abortion.
In a victory for pro-lifers, the First District Court of Appeal effectively re-legitimized a 2015 law requiring women to wait 24 hours before making a final decision to undergo a termination procedure. The case will now be passed back to the Leon County circuit court for reconsideration.
Writing the majority opinion alongside Judge Harvey Jay, Judge Timothy Osterhaus argued that, as per state guidelines, a 24-hour waiting period is needed to ensure “informed consent” from the woman seeking an abortion.
“Rather than singling out and burdening abortion procedures with arbitrary requirements, the state’s evidence indicates that the 24-hour law brings abortion procedures in Florida into compliance with medical informed consent standards and tangibly improves health outcomes for women,” Osterhaus added, according to the Miami Herald.
In January, the now-retired Leon County Circuit Judge, Terry Lewis, argued that the waiting period law was unconstitutional, violated privacy rights and acted as an unnecessary hold-up for women seeking to abort their baby. Lewis also issued a summary judgment without holding a full trial – something the appeals court deemed unfair.
The appeals court majority argued that because a “disputed genuine issues of material fact remain, appellees [the law’s opponents] are not entitled to final summary judgment.” It added that “further consideration of appellees’ constitutional challenge,” must now take place.
“Women claiming particular harms from the 24-hour law based on their specific circumstances may challenge the law’s application to them. But those would be as-applied constitutional challenges. No such challenge has been made here,” Osterhaus noted. “For this facial challenge, the correct legal test is not whether the 24-hour law violates the constitutional rights of some women in some circumstances, but whether it violates the rights of all women in all circumstances.”
Former Florida governor, Republican Rick Scott, signed the waiting period measure into law back in 2015.
At the time, Republican state Representative Jennifer Sullivan, who sponsored the legislation, said that the law “means women will be empowered to make fully informed decisions,” according to Reuters.
“It’s just common courtesy to have a face-to-face conversation with your doctor about such an important decision, she added, “especially for such an irreversible procedure as an abortion.”