Abortion Rights Victory in Florida Could Have 'Massive Implications'

Amendment to enshrine abortion access has enough signatures for 2024 ballot, pending other ruling
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2024 12:52 PM CST
Florida May Be Next State With Abortion Rights on Ballot
People rally in support of abortion rights on July 2, 2022, in Kansas City, Missouri.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Voters in Ohio, Kansas, and other states have opted to enshrine abortion rights in their respective constitutions, and Florida may be next. The Tampa Bay Times reports that proponents have secured more than enough signatures to place on the 2024 ballot a constitutional amendment that would unravel the state's strict abortion ban, which currently bars the procedure at 15 weeks. (A six-week ban signed by GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis will replace the 15-week ban, pending a decision from the conservative-leaning Florida Supreme Court.) The new proposal would keep abortion access in play until the fetus is viable, thought to be around 24 weeks, with exceptions past that for "the patient's health, as determined by the patient's health care provider," per NBC News.

Floridians Protecting Freedom had at least 911,102 valid signatures as of Friday, surpassing the required 891,523, with official confirmation to be handed down over the next few weeks, per the state elections agency. NBC notes that at least 150,000 of the validated signatures came from registered Republicans. "The fact that we only launched our campaign eight months ago and we've already reached our petition goal speaks to the unprecedented support and momentum there is to get politicians out of our private lives and health care decisions," Lauren Brenzel, the group's campaign director, tells the Times, adding that she's confident voters will greenlight the amendment.

Per Axios, if such an amendment were to find its way into the state's Constitution, "it would have massive implications for reproductive health care across the South." The outlet notes that Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody in November filed a legal brief demanding the state Supreme Court quash the amendment, arguing that its use of the word "viability" (in regard to the fetus) is meant to "hoodwink" voters. That court will hear oral arguments in the case starting Feb. 7. If the amendment does make it onto the November ballot, it needs at least 60% of voters to cast a "yea" to pass. (More abortion stories.)

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