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Proposed federal abortion bill would extend waiting time

U.S. Senate Republicans recently introduced a bill that would require a doctor to notify a minor’s parents, and wait four days, before providing an abortion. #

Though Florida already had a parental notification law on the books, this past legislative session saw the passage of new measures that could further extend the waiting period for an abortion. Both Florida’s law and the federal bill raise concerns regarding extended waiting periods, which could lead to a rise in later-term abortions and lead to health risks for young women. #

Florida House Bill 1247 aims to extend the waiting period for an abortion for minors seeking a judicial bypass of parental notification. #

“Within the constitutional requirement that the process be ‘confidential and expeditious,’ current law requires a judge to rule on a petition within 48 hours,” stated a recent press release by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. “HB1247 layers on delays which taken together could extend the process to up to three weeks – complicating both the legal process and any subsequent medical procedure.” #

Research shows that parental notifications could also have an effect on the timing of abortions. #

Research from a 2001 edition of the* Journal of Health Economics* says that “such laws may lower the number of abortions in a state by making it more difficult for women to obtain abortions, and they may also have more subtle effects, such as delaying the timing of abortions until later in the pregnancy.” #

In essence, waiting periods and further delays lead to “a rise in the share of later-term [post-first trimester] abortions.” #

According to a report by the Guttmacher Institute, laws that extend wait-times, such as “mandatory counseling and waiting period laws, which requires an additional in-person visit before the procedure” cause an increase in the number of women seeking an abortion out-of-state. The proportion of second-trimester abortions also increased in those instances. #

Florida’s recent measures are still awaiting signature from Gov. Rick Scott. #

According to The Hill, the proposed federal law requires that parents be “notified by certified mail that their minor daughter is seeking an abortion, and doctors would have to wait four days before performing the procedure.” Doctors violating the law could face a fine of up to $1 million and a prison term of up to 10 years. #

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