Florida Supreme Court Halts Abortion Waiting Period --For Now

The Florida Supreme Court suspended the state’s 24-hour waiting period for abortions on Friday until it decides whether to hear a lawsuit claiming the law is unconstitutional.

The 5-to-2 decision comes two months after an appeals court allowed the law to go into effect. It was immediately praised by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which is suing on behalf of a Gainesville clinic to block the law.

‘‘Women should not suffer this burden while there is an ongoing challenge to this unconstitutional law. Forcing women seeking an abortion to make multiple visits that are medically unnecessary especially burdens poor and working women, and is potentially dangerous,’’ said Nancy Abudu, legal director of the ACLU of Florida. ‘‘This law was about the legislature creating needless burdens to limit a woman’s access to reproductive care.’’

The ACLU says the Florida Constitution protects the women’s private medical decisions.

Republican Governor Rick Scott signed the waiting period into law last year, at the time joining at least 26 other states with similar laws. Scott’s office didn’t immediately react to the ruling.

‘‘We will review it,’’ said Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli wasn’t nearly as reserved, blasting the Supreme Court and saying it overstepped its power.

‘‘I can’t say I am surprised. In my opinion, this has been one of the most activist and overreaching State Supreme Courts in recent memory,’’ he said in an e-mailed statement. ‘‘I believe our government operates best when all sides respect the balance of power. It appears that several of our Justices seem to believe it is their job to invalidate any action of the Legislature, regardless of the law and constitution.’’

While not a party to the lawsuit, Planned Parenthood of Florida said the law has caused problems for women seeking abortions during the two months it’s been in effect.

‘‘It’s definitely been difficult for many of them. They’ve traveled a great distance just to be told they have to come back and take time off work or classes,’’ said Laura Goodhue, a spokeswoman for the group. ‘‘Politicians are passing laws with the intent of shaming and judging women.’’

While the court’s decision doesn’t guarantee it will review the law, it’s a good indication that it will.

Justices Ricky Polston and Charles Canady opposed the decision.

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AP / Brendan Farrington / April 22, 2016