On Thursday February 16th, the Florida Supreme Court blocked an abortion law that had been challenged in court by a Gainesville Women’s clinic. The law had required that women seeking an abortion had to wait 24 hours and visit their doctors twice before they could undergo the procedure. The Bread and Roses Women’s Health Center, located in Gainesville, challenged the law in court soon after it passed the Florida House in June 2015. The clinic was aided in the lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union whose attorney argued the case on their behalf.
The Judges blocked the law in a 4-2 decision on the grounds that it violated a constitutional right to privacy. The Florida constitution possesses a clause that states “every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life” which formed the basis for the court’s ruling. The dissenting opinion on the court was that a 24 hour wait restriction didn’t constitute a substantial intrusion into a person’s privacy.
While abortion activists are claiming the ruling as a victory, it’s not the end of the law or anti-abortion legislation. The law will fall to another appeals court for further review while some republican lawmakers have announced a slew of new anti-abortion bills to March’s legislative session. The ACLU of Florida in turn is preparing to challenge these pieces of legislation in court as they make it through the Florida House and Senate.
The law will sit in the lower appeals court until a petitioner requests a hearing on a permanent injunction. If granted, it’s likely the law will be permanently struck down in the same 4-2 decision as today’s ruling. If you would like to read the ruling it has been made available as a 59 page PDF outlining each side’s arguments and the opinions of the majority and dissenting Judges.