Florida judge blocks abortion delay law, rules it unconstitutional

(Reuters) - A Florida judge on Tuesday permanently blocked and declared unconstitutional a law requiring a woman to delay an abortion by at least 24 hours after making a visit to a doctor who would have to inform her of possible risks of the procedure.

"Florida law subjects no other medical procedure, including those that pose greater health risks than abortion, to a mandatory delay," Circuit Judge Terry Lewis wrote in his judgment.

The state constitution includes a directive from citizens to their government to stay out of their personal matters unless there is good reason, Lewis said. "And it's hard to imagine a more private, personal matter ... as the decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy," he said.

The lawsuit against the state of Florida was brought on behalf of a Gainesville abortion clinic and Medical Students for Choice by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Florida, Center for Reproductive Rights and Tallahassee attorney Richard Johnson.

Asked for a comment on the decision, Florida Governor Rick Scott's spokeswoman Lauren Schenone said in an email: "We are reviewing the ruling."

The decision affirms that politicians should not interfere with women's health-care decisions, the ACLU of Florida said in a statement.

"Today's ruling is a win for Florida women," Nancy Abudu, legal director of the ACLU of Florida, said. "The forced delay law was an insult to women and imposed medically unnecessary and harmful burdens, particularly on low-income patients. This law's intention was to stop women from getting abortion care, plain and simple."

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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