If the state thinks a law requiring women to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion is constitutional, it needs to prove it, a Tallahassee judge said during a Wednesday hearing.
Circuit Judge Terry Lewis—a 28-year veteran of the bench—gave the Attorney General’s Office 60 days to develop evidence to counter a Supreme Court decision this February temporarily halting enforcement of the waiting period, passed in 2015.
Opponents have said delays could lead to victims of domestic abuse being forced to forgo an abortion, or cause additional emotional distress for women who have a doomed pregnancy. Proponents counter the waiting period is necessary because the decision can’t be undone.
Julia Kaye, the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer representing a Gainesville women’s clinic, later told reporters the “mandatory timeout” was an “insulting law,” and that Lewis’ move meant “Florida women will just have to wait a little longer for justice.”
Deputy Solicitor General Denise Harle had argued that the law doesn’t create significant burdens for women and was the “least intrusive” way to achieve a “compelling state interest.”
Harle suggested that evidence offered might include details of similar laws in other states, for example.
But the Supreme Court said there’s a strong likelihood that a lower court will determine the law is unconstitutional because the state had offered no evidence that the law in fact does address a compelling state interest.
(Background from The Associated Press, reprinted with permission.)