A Florida state trial court today ruled against abortion providers, dismissing a challenge to the state’s pre-abortion mandatory delay law. The law, enacted in 2015, had been blocked by courts multiple times — but now, patients will be forced to wait at least 24 hours between required, in-person counseling at a health center and their abortion appointment. The requirement could take effect within weeks.
Crucially, this requirement will create additional logistical barriers for patients seeking abortion. The challenges pregnant people face in scheduling travel, childcare, and work arrangements to get doctors’ appointments 24 hours apart means the procedure could be forced later into the pregnancy, posing an unnecessary health risk. This ruling risks pushing care out of reach, and comes on the heels of the Florida Legislature’s extreme step of passing a ban on abortions after 15 weeks.
Statement from Laura Goodhue, executive director, Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates:
“Today’s ruling throws up another unnecessary obstacle to care for the patients who need it. On the heels of the Florida Legislature passing a 15-week abortion ban, HB 5, the mandatory delay law puts up one more politically motivated roadblock to accessing safe and legal abortion. If HB 5 is allowed to take effect, the window of access will shrink even more, closing in from both sides. We have always opposed this medically unnecessary law which creates a burden on pregnant people who have already made their decision. We believe laws should not be introduced with the intention of shaming, coercing or judging, but rather based on the best health care policies and medical standards.The ability to access abortion must be a right not just in theory, but in reality. Florida legislators should quit playing politics with abortion and focus on improving access to health care, including reproductive health care.”
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“The court’s decision to allow the mandatory waiting period to take effect is another blow to reproductive freedom in Florida. Courts have already said this law serves no purpose but to undermine patients’ autonomy and impede their personal medical decisions. There is no space for politicians in our exam rooms, nor judges in our bedrooms. Planned Parenthood continues to stand with people seeking abortion, without shame or apology, and we will keep fighting for patients until they can access abortion without unnecessary barriers.”
What’s wrong with a 24-hour mandatory delay?
- Mandatory delay laws unnecessarily postpone access to abortion even when a pregnant person has already made a deliberate and fully informed decision.
- State laws that require mandatory delays do not offer any health benefits. They result in increased expenses, travel difficulties, and medical risks.
- Mandatory delay requirements are especially burdensome to people in rural areas and those living in poverty that may not be able to take extra days off from work, travel long distances, or find appropriate childcare while they are away from home.
- Implicit in this legislation is the unfounded assumption that a pregnant person who decides to have an abortion doesn’t carefully consider their decision. The reasons a person may decide to have an abortion are complicated.
Support for access to safe and legal abortion in Florida is overwhelming. A poll conducted by the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab after HB 5 was passed found that 60-percent of registered voters in Florida oppose the 15-week abortion ban. This is consistent with a recent poll conducted by the Florida Communications and Research Hub that found Florida’s registered voters do not want to see abortion banned or Roe v. Wade overturned. Only 29% of Florida voters believe Roe should be overturned vs. 59% who say it should stand.
The Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates is the nonpartisan advocacy and political organization representing Florida’s two Planned Parenthood affiliates. The Alliance engages in educational and electoral activity, including legislative advocacy, voter education, and grassroots organizing to promote the Planned Parenthood mission.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care for all people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect, and without judgment, striving to create equitable access to health care. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable education and information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the independently incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates operating health centers across the U.S.