Thursday, February 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Florida Supreme Court should keep abortion restriction on hold

The Florida Supreme Court is weighing whether to allow a state law to take effect that requires women to wait 24 hours before obtaining an abortion. Passed in 2015, the law is an end run around reproductive choice that is unlikely to hold up under Florida's strong right-to-privacy protections in the state Constitution. But because a lawsuit challenging the law's constitutionality is likely to take years, it's critical that the court uphold an injunction and not add to the burden of women facing this difficult decision by allowing the law to take effect while the legal fight plays on.

The legislation, which passed along party lines with heavy Republican support, would force women to make at least two trips to the doctor, have a face-to-face conversation giving informed consent and then wait at least 24 hours before having the procedure. Legislators included an exemption for women who have been the victim of rape, incest, domestic violence or human trafficking — but only if they can prove it with a police report or medical record. Billed as a modest restriction that allows women adequate time to weigh their decision, the law is anything but empowering. Instead, it assumes women can't make this choice on their own.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit, alleging the law overburdens women who live far from a clinic or who can't afford multiple days away from work or family for doctor visits. The ACLU argues the law violates the Florida Constitution, which says "every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person's private life." For decades, courts have interpreted that privacy clause to protect the right to an abortion. A trial judge agreed to prevent the law from taking effect while the suit moves forward.

This week, in arguments before the state Supreme Court, a lawyer for the state claimed that the waiting period is "outcome-neutral."

"The state is not trying to encourage or discourage abortions just as the state is not attempting to discourage marriage or anything else," attorney Denise Harle argued. But the words of legislators who supported the bill suggest otherwise. In 2015, Senate sponsor Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said she had heard "horror stories from women who regret their decision." Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, equated abortions with "people who didn't get to achieve their dream, to fulfill their purpose, to do what they were meant to do." Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Inverness, said having an abortion means "you are personally choosing to end a life."

Does anyone seriously believe the Republican-led Legislature is "neutral" about women making their own decisions about their health and their pregnancies?

In passing the 24-hour rule, Florida joined 26 other states with waiting periods ranging from 18 to 72 hours. Florida's Republican lawmakers may argue that they are trying to help women, but as Justice Barbara Pariente noted, no medical reason has emerged in the decades since abortion became legal to justify such a restriction. Women considering abortion give serious thought to their choice, and they are not helped by a law that second-guesses them and makes it harder to exercise their constitutional right.

Comments
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18