Republicans in Tallahassee have slowly chipped away at women's ability to easily access abortion services in the state of Florida, and this year they were successful in following the lead of a number of other Republican-controlled states by passing a bill that requires women to undergo counseling 24 hours before they receive an abortion. Rick Scott signed the bill into law officially yesterday, and it goes into effect on July 1.
However, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law.
“It’s clear that the sole purpose of this law is to make it more difficult for a woman who has decided to have an abortion to get one, and to punish and discriminate against those who do,” said Renée Paradis, senior staff attorney for the ACLU, in a statement.
Bread and Roses, a reproductive health care provider in Gainesville and the Florida chapter of the Medical Students for Choice have agreed to sign on as co-plaintiffs in the suit. The challenge claims that the new law violates constitutional rights to privacy and equal protection, and they say that the wait period is medically unnecessary.
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The new law also does not carve out any exceptions for rape, incest, or emergency abortion procedures.
“The law condescendingly implies women don’t know what they’re doing and can’t make choices on their own,” says Christopher M. Estes, the chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida, told New Times last month. “Women who are coming to have an abortion procedure have already been thinking about it — they didn’t just find a center on the side of the road and decide to have it done.”
The case has been assigned to Chief Circuit Judge Charles Francis, but a hearing date has not been set.