FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 16, 2017
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office,, 786 363 2720

TALLAHASSEE -The Florida Supreme Court has blocked a law that prevents a woman from getting an abortion for at least 24 hours after visiting her doctor and requires her to make an additional, medically unnecessary trip to the clinic before she can access abortion care. The ruling comes in Gainesville Woman Care, LLC v. State of Florida¸ a lawsuit in which the ACLU, ACLU of Florida, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Richard Johnson of Tallahassee had jointly challenged the law on behalf of women’s health care providers.

In a 4-2 ruling, the Florida Supreme Court held that a lower court was right to bar the state from enforcing the “Mandatory Delay Law,” and that the law must be subject to the highest level of judicial scrutiny as the litigation proceeds. The ruling reverses an appeals court decision, and orders that the injunction on enforcement of the law remain in effect pending further legal action.

“Today’s ruling is a win for Florida women,” stated Nancy Abudu, legal director for the ACLU of Florida. “The burdens placed on a woman seeking an abortion by this mandatory delay law are medically unnecessary, potentially dangerous, and disproportionately burden poor and working women. This law had one purpose: to limit a woman’s access to her constitutionally-guaranteed medical care. We are pleased that the court has agreed.”

The mandatory delay law briefly went into effect in late February 2016 when a state appellate court reversed a lower court order putting the law on hold.  Two months later, the Supreme Court reinstated the temporary injunction while it considered the lower court decision.  On November 1, attorneys for the ACLU argued before the Florida Supreme Court that the law causes particular harm to low-income women who have to take additional time off from work, pay for additional travel, and secure additional child care in order to comply with the law’s two-visit requirement.

“The court’s decision resoundingly confirms what Floridians already knew—politicians have no business interfering with a woman’s private health care decisions, including the decision to have an abortion,” said Julia Kaye, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, who argued the case before the Florida Supreme Court.  “This decision is a wake-up call to Florida politicians to stop passing laws that do nothing but insult and burden a woman seeking abortion care.”

“Florida women don’t need politically motivated delays when they have made the decision to end a pregnancy,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.  “Decisions about a woman’s future, health, and family do not belong in the hands of politicians who know nothing of her personal circumstances.  Women are capable decision makers and we will stand with Florida women until this law is permanently struck down.”

The mandatory delay law, passed by the Florida legislature in 2015, is one of several recent anti-abortion laws currently facing legal challenges. In a separate case, the ACLU is currently challenging a 2016 law that requires people and organizations that advise a Florida woman seeking an abortion to give her state-mandated information, to notify her parents if she is a minor, and to register with the state’s health care administration agency.

A copy of the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling is available here

More details about this case, can be found at: