TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A Florida judge is blocking a new state law that requires women to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion.
Chief Circuit Judge Charles Francis on Tuesday blocked the law one day before it was scheduled to take effect.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the Center for Reproductive Rights sued after Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed it into law. They argued that the law violates the right to privacy guaranteed in the state constitution by interfering with the right of women to undergo the procedure.
"We are very pleased that the court saw this law for what it is: an unconstitutional attack on the right of Florida women to make their own choices about their healthcare, including abortion," ACLU of Florida Legal Director Nancy Abudu said in a written statement.
Florida was scheduled to become the 27th state to have a mandatory waiting period and backers of the measure had predicted the law would withstand a legal challenge.
Abortion was the subject of emotional debate during the Legislature's regular session that ended on May 1. Democrats complained the bill was simply an effort to put up roadblocks to infringe on women's rights to an abortion while Republicans said women should have to wait before making such a major decision.
But in his ruling Francis wrote that state officials had given no evidence to show why the new law is not a burden on privacy rights. He said it didn't matter that other states have similar laws since Florida's right of privacy is broader.
The law has exceptions for victims of rape, incest, domestic abuse or human trafficking if women present their doctors with a police report, restraining order or similar documentation backing their claim. But the lawsuit said requiring documentation in those cases is meaningless because the majority of victims don't report those crimes.
The decision follows a U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down on Monday which blocks Texas from enforcing restrictions that would force 10 abortion clinics to close. Until the high court intervened, only abortion facilities in the Houston, Austin, San Antonio and the Dallas-Fort Worth areas remained open.
The Supreme Court order in that case will remain in effect at least until the court decides whether to hear the clinics' appeal of a lower court decision on a Texas rule that could make abortion clinics there spend millions on hospital-level upgrades.
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