Florida Politicians Advance Demeaning Law Forcing Women to Wait 24 Hours, Make Two Trips Before Obtaining Abortion Care
Center for Reproductive Rights, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health Call on Florida Senate to Reject Measure
(PRESS RELEASE) The Florida House of Representatives today passed a measure which would force a woman to wait 24 hours before seeking safe and legal abortion and make two separate trips to her health provider before she is able to receive safe, legal abortion care.
“Women are more than capable of making thoughtful decisions about their health, pregnancies, and families, and the last thing they need is interference from politicians who presume they know better,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “In a region where neighboring states have been clamoring to erect as many barriers to safe and legal abortion as possible, Florida has long stood out by protecting women’s right to essential reproductive health care. We urge the Florida Senate to honor that history and reject this demeaning bill.
“This bill would severely restrict a woman’s access to safe and legal abortion in Florida by requiring someone seeking abortion services to make multiple, medically unnecessary appointments,” said Jessica González-Rojas, Executive Director at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. “The forced delay would create needless and burdensome logistical and financial barriers that would negatively impact Latina health and well-being in the state of Florida, as well as placing the constitutionally-protected right to legal abortion further out of reach for many. Furthermore, these policies would have a disproportionately negative impact on Latinas, immigrant women, young women, and women of color across the state, who already struggle to get the care they need.”
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.