(PRESS RELEASE)—The Florida Senate today passed a measure which forces a woman to wait 24 hours and make two separate trips before she is able to obtain a safe and legal abortion. Today’s vote comes two days after the Florida House passed the same measure.
The bill—which is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2015--now heads to Florida Governor Rick Scott.
“When a woman decides she needs to safely and legally end a pregnancy, she should never be delayed by politicians who presume to know better than her,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Governor Scott should make clear that politicians have no place in women’s personal, private medical decisions and veto this demeaning bill.”
"We are outraged that the Senate has passed this extreme and harmful measure,” said Jessica González-Rojas, Executive Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. “Forcing Floridians to endure a mandatory delay in accessing the abortion care they need is simply unconscionable. We call on the governor to stop this extreme proposal in its tracks with a veto. Florida Latinas are watching closely."
Waiting periods can create a variety of burdens on a woman needing to access abortion—from increasing shame to requiring additional trips to the clinic, which means additional travel time, transportation costs, child care, and time off work. Women of color, low-income women, rural women, and women in abusive relationships already face challenges when needing to access health care, and waiting periods only increase these barriers. Additionally, extending the waiting period can lead a woman to delay the abortion to later into the pregnancy, which can increase the risks of the otherwise extremely safe procedure.
In a region devastated by similarly underhanded restrictions, Florida has long served as a safe haven for women from neighboring states seeking safe and legal abortion services. From clinic shutdown laws--which have closed clinics in Texas and threaten to shutter abortion providers in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Alabama—to outright bans on abortion, women in the South often face innumerable hurdles when trying to access their constitutional right to safe and legal abortion services. Legislators’ time and effort would be better spent on increasing the number of policies that are known to support women and children rather than enacting abortion restrictions that will not only harm Florida women, but also wreak additional havoc in a region already decimated by similarly underhanded laws.
Harmful restrictions like these further underscore the need for the federal Women's Health Protection Act (S. 217/HR. 448)—a bill that would prohibit states like Florida from imposing restrictions on reproductive health care providers that apply to no similar medical care, interfere with women’s personal decision making, and block access to safe and legal abortion services.