Justices on the Florida Supreme Court will this morning hear arguments about whether a state law requiring women to see a doctor 24 hours before having an abortion should continue to be blocked by court order -- as it has for most of the last year and a half -- or should go into effect.
The law, signed by Gov. Rick Scott in June 2015, was challenged in a lawsuit by abortion-rights activists and a Gainesville clinic, who argue that it creates an undue burden on abortion access and violates the state Constitution.
Bread and Roses, the Gainesville clinic, won an injunction that stopped the law from going into effect last summer in a Tallahassee circuit court, but an appeals court reversed that opinion. The Florida Supreme Court stepped in April of this year, agreeing to hear the case and stopping the law from going into effect in the meantime.
The 2015 law is one of several passed in recent years that opponents say curtail access to abortion, which courts say is guaranteed under the state and federal constitutions. A law issuing new requirements for abortion clinics was stopped by a federal judge this summer. State agencies under Scott declined to appeal that case.
Supporters of a 24-hour mandated waiting period argue that requiring a full day between an initial doctor's visit and the abortion protects pregnant women. It gives them time to consider their options and makes it harder for doctors or others to pressure women into having an abortion, supporters say.
But opponents say that argument belittles women and they say a waiting period simply disadvantages poor women who cannot afford to take multiple days off work and those who do not live near or have transportation to a clinic.
The justices hear oral arugments around 9:40 a.m. at the Supreme Court in Tallahassee. They likely will not issue a ruling in the case Tuesday.