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Judges overturn order halting 24-hour waiting period for abortions


A law requiring women to see a doctor 24 hours before having an abortion will now be enforced after being put on hold by a court order last summer.

On Friday, the 1st District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee overturned a judge’s order that halted the law, passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott last year.

Citing a lack of evidence and the possibility that the wrong legal standard was used in the case, the appellate justices wrote that the original order by 2nd Circuit Court Judge Charles Dodson  was “legally insufficient to justify this injunctive relief.”

“In the abortion context as in any other, injunctive relief requires competent, substantial evidence to support the necessary findings of fact,” the judges — Bradford Thomas, Susan Kelsey and William Stone —wrote.

Under the law, women must see a doctor in person 24 hours prior to having an abortion. Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, was the main sponsor of the controversial legislation, which she says allows women time to make a “informed decision” before having an abortion.

“I’m absolutely ecstatic that the injunction has been lifted,” she said in a written statement Friday. “This is a huge win for women’s health and the ability for women to have a face-to-face consultation with the doctor before the procedure.”

Abortion rights activists, however, decry the law as a tactic to restrict access to the procedure, particularly among poor women with limited access to transportation. 

The also allege it is unconstitutional under Florida’s strict privacy protections. That’s the main argument in a lawsuit filed by Gainesville-based abortion clinic Bread and Roses Women’s Health Center and the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

Shortly after the law went into effect July 1, 2015, Dodson issued an emergency injunction that stopped it from going into effect while the lawsuit moved forward.