A long, deeply frustrating back-and-forth over a possible 24 hour waiting period for abortions in Florida appeared as though it might have been put to an end on Tuesday; Judge Charles Francis of Florida's second judicial circuit court blocked the law before it was to go into effect on Wednesday. This apparent victory was short-lived, however, as other state officials quickly repealed the law through the state Attorney General Pam Bondi, and this caused the law to go in effect as planned Wednesday. The new law states that anyone seeking an abortion must make an initial visit to a doctor, and only then can they return 24 hours later to actually obtain an abortion. The issue of a waiting period for abortion seekers in Florida has gone on for decades, and has been fueled in large part by the legacy of current presidential candidates, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and U.S. Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio.
Florida Governor Rick Scott signed this new law into effect on June 10, triggering a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights. The ACLU has called the new law "an unconstitutional attack on the right of Florida women to make their own choices about their healthcares [sic], including abortion."
ACLU's lawyers hope that judge Francis will use his power to lift the stay from the Attorney General's office, buying the ACLU, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and abortion seekers in Florida some much-needed time to fight this law.
But Gov. Scott is hardly the first top Florida politician to lend his unequivocal support to this waiting measure. This law is merely the latest in Florida's long history of abortion restrictions; former Gov. Bush supported this and other anti-abortion measures, as has Senator Rubio.
In 1994, when Bush was running for governor, he was already advocating for a 24 hour waiting period for abortion procedures. According to the Sun Sentinel, Bush noted at the start of his that he did not feel abortion issues should be a part of the gubernatorial campaign and also stated, "Should there be a 24-hour waiting period for women as they think about this very solemn decision they have to make, which is two days less than it takes to purchase a gun? I say yes."
While governor, Bush also secured funding for adoption counseling, he also creating laws that required parental consent for minors hoping to have an abortion. Seeking not only to create legislation that challenged pro-choice measures, but apparently also a culture that resisted pro-choice measures, Bush made it legal for anti-abortion activists to raise funds through the sale of "Choose Life" state license plates.
Several years later, in 2007, Senator Rubio voted in favor of bills that required sonograms before an abortion procedure, and that an appointment would need to be made 24 hours before a return appointment to have the abortion would be allowed. This is only one of the many different times in his tenure that Rubio has worked to restrict abortion access in Florida. In 2013, Rubio joined a number of other Senators in introducing the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, which would have required abortion clinics to notify the parents of minors who had traveled out of state to obtain an abortion, if the minor's state of residence had laws requiring parental notification.
Florida has a long legacy when it comes to restricted access to abortion, in no small part because of the oppositions from former governor Bush and senator Rubio. This most recent law not only further inhibits access to abortion, but as the Judge who granted the injunction stated, is also "an additional burden on a woman's right to privacy." The judge has the opportunity to lift the stay handed down from Bondi's office, and render the law ineffective while the ACLU and Center for Reproductive Rights have their case heard.
Regarding the importance of this lawsuit for abortion rights in Florida, President of Panned Parenthood Action Fund, Cecile Richards tells Bustle in a statement,
This is one more piece of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio's failed legacy in Florida -- millions of women facing hurdles to health care and safe, and legal abortion. We hope the court ultimately sides with Florida women, and blocks this dangerous and medically unnecessary law.
If the case is decided in favor of the pro-choice plaintiffs, it would be a major victory for abortion rights, and would at least temporarily mitigate the damaging effects that Bush and Rubio policies have had for Florida.
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