House Bill Requiring a Wait Period Before Abortions Clears First Panel

Mar 12, 2015

A woman would have to wait 24-hours before having an abortion under a proposal approved by a House Health panel Thursday. Such bills  have become a fixture in the Florida legislature.

Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R-Mount Dora)
Credit Florida House of Representatives

Activists like Pam Olsen argue a wait time is standard across many industries in Florida:

“We make people wait 24 hours, actually I think its three days to get married,  to buy a handgun. I’ve had to go to the doctor and get informed information to have surgeries, then come back," she told a House health panel Thursday.

Yet opponents argue the measure is an attempt to restrict abortions. Michelle Richardson represents the ACLU of Florida:

“Having an abortion is also incredibly safe, with a 99 percent safety record," she told lawmakers. "The delay you are considering is not medically necessary and could in fact, interfere with a woman’s health.”

The bill was approved on a party line vote with little debate and still has more committee stops. It's sponsor, Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R-Mount Dora), says believes it’s important to allow time for a woman to reflect on her decision.

“Though it can’t be proven by a single statistic due to the nature of this procedure, from my personal experiences, I have witnessed the pressure  placed upon a woman, especially younger women by their parents, friends and spouse or boyfriend, to make a rushed decision," Sullivan said.

Several other abortion bills are pending in the legislature and may face more scrutiny in the Senate.