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Florida Supreme Court blocks law on mandatory abortion waiting period

[JURIST] The Florida Supreme Court [official website] on Thursday blocked [opinion, PDF] enforcement of the Mandatory Delay Law [text], which requires that a woman wait for 24 hours after receiving counseling from a physician before she can have an abortion. The law was deemed unconstitutional by the four-justice majority because it was found to violate a woman's right to privacy. In the majority opinion, Justice Barbara Pariente wrote, "Today we make clear, in Florida, any law that implicates the fundamental right of privacy, regardless of the activity, is subject to strict scrutiny and is presumptively unconstitutional." The law is remanded to the Florida First District Court [official website] and will be blocked until that court makes a decision. Justice Charles Canady led the dissent, writing, "There is no basis for this Court to exercise jurisdiction."

Abortion rights have been a controversial topic of late. In October a federal judge blocked a Mississippi law that disqualified [JURIST report] Medicaid benefits for non-therapeutic abortions. Also in October the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that a state law adding new licensing and inspection rules for facilities that perform abortions is unconstitutional. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a bill into law late last month banning the dilation and evacuation abortion method. Last week the Pennsylvania Senate approved a 20-week abortion ban.

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