Women don’t need a wait period to make health decisions

A new Florida bill would reinforce the ancient stereotype that women are too indecisive about what they want, as it would require them to take more time before making a major health choice.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the Florida Legislature recently approved a bill (HB 633) that would require women seeking an abortion to wait 24 hours before having the procedure. What Senate Republicans argue is a way to potentially prevent abortions by giving women that much more time to consider their decision is really just a way to further restrict women from making a personal choice with the implication that they wouldn’t have thought it through without that time. 

But, if Gov. Rick Scott were to approve this bill, Florida wouldn’t be the first to have the idea.

For instance, as mentioned in the Los Angeles Times, North Carolina’s lower house wants to expand its waiting period from 24 hours to 72 hours, and South Dakota recently lengthened its 72-hour waiting period by excluding weekends, federal and state holidays. Among these, 26 other states in the U.S. already have a waiting period.

While wait periods aren’t as harsh as other restrictions, such as Texas’ strict criteria for abortion clinics that limited the number of facilities in the state and Florida’s own requirement that women get an ultrasound before an abortion, the expansion of wait periods tells women they can’t possibly make the right decision for themselves the first time around. 

As the Times reported, Republican Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto used the age-old argument that one of the 72,000 abortions in Florida last year and in years to come could have potentially prevented the cure for cancer or a venture to Mars. 

However, starting with the state’s young adults and talking to them about sex and contraception is a better start. 

In Florida, sex and STI/HIV education must stress abstinence, according to the Guttmacher Institute. To truly prevent abortion, it’s time to stop dancing around talk of contraception to younger ears so they are informed about their options in the very real event that they choose to have sex.

Guttmacher also notes that Florida health care providers have the option to refuse contraceptive services and that the state lacks a policy for pharmacies to provide access to contraceptives. Instead of trying to change women’s minds about an abortion, the state should work harder to prevent unwanted pregnancy. 

If Florida has the nerve to restrict abortion, it can’t ignore women with a pregnancy that is the result of rape. Yet, that is exactly what Florida would be doing, since the state would exempt these women from the wait if they can prove they were raped, an insensitive provision that only makes them jump more hurdles.

Abortion clearly isn’t an easy choice to make, but the Legislature can’t assume women haven’t considered that already. As if many conservative pro-lifers don’t already think women wanting an abortion are irresponsible, the state doesn’t need to reinforce this myth.  

Isabelle Cavazos is a senior majoring in English and Spanish.