All entries filed under “Civil Rights”

Court deals a blow to lawmakers' 24 hour waiting period for abortions by ruling it likely to be found unconstitutional

The Supreme Court of Florida issued an opinion last week in the case of Gainesville Woman Care, LLC v. State, which deals a blow to the 2015 “Mandatory Delay Law,” which requires a 24 hour waiting period for women seeing an abortion.  No. SC16-381, 2017 Fla. LEXIS 340 (Feb. 16, 2017).

In determining that an injunction preventing enforcement of the law is appropriate given a “substantial likelihood of success” in the attempt to defeat the law, the Court dismissed a list of state interests found potentially compelling by the First District, such interests to include:

. . . whether, in passing the privacy amendment in 1980, voters intended to deprive Florida and its citizens of the benefits of advances in medical knowledge and evolutions in federal law recognizing increasingly compelling state interests arising from, among other factors, the potentiality of life uniquely represented by the human fetus. Likewise, the trial court did not address the evidence of intent reflected in the State's many post-1980 laws and regulations specific to abortion; nor the evidence of voter intent reflected in the 2004 adoption of article X, section 22, of the Florida Constitution, which in effect overruled North Florida Women's and authorized a requirement of parental notice of termination of a minor's pregnancy. Id. at 282. 

. . . providing women a short time to reflect privately after receiving required relevant information, in maintaining the integrity of the medical profession by making that post-informed reflective time free from influence by a physician or clinic personnel, in protecting the unique potentiality of human life, in protecting the organic law of Florida from interpretations and impacts never contemplated or approved by Floridians or their elected representatives, and in protecting the viability of a duly-enacted state law.

Id.  Despite the First District’s clear attempt to uphold the will of the majority of voters and of their elected officials in the arena of abortion, the Supreme Court again looked to the fundamental right of a woman to her privacy and stated that none of the reasons listed by the First District could be considered compelling. 

Most interestingly, since the Court expressed in such powerful language the fundamental nature and broad expanse of a person’s right to bodily autonomy and privacy was its dismissal of any rights of the unborn child, described as the “potentiality of life uniquely represented by the human fetus” by stating “[s]uch social and moral concerns have no place in the concept of informed consent.”  Id.

It seems likely this will only be one battle in the ongoing conflict between lawmakers, the people of the State of Florida, and the Supreme Court of Florida continue in the context of constitutional rights.