Florida Supreme Court Approves Abortion Rights Amendment for Fall 2024 Election

Abortion rights advocates and Democrats celebrated the Florida Supreme Court's approval of an abortion rights amendment for the general election this autumn, hoping it would benefit their candidates. Abortion is 1 in 8 voters' top priority for 2024.

On Monday, the court divided 4-3 and ruled the abortion rights amendment clear despite its sweeping abortion access consequences.

"That the proposed amendment's principal goal and chief purpose is to limit government interference with abortion is plainly stated in terms that clearly and unambiguously reflect the text," the majority judgment states. Summary text shows the wide scope of this proposed change. To deny this is to escape reality.”

Following Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R-FL) signature of a six-week abortion age restriction, pro-abortion organization Floridians Protecting Freedom started mobilizing for an abortion rights amendment in May.

In October, State Attorney General Ashley Moody (R-FL) asked the Florida Supreme Court to investigate the amendment's usage of “viability” since it has two medical meanings.

No legislation may ban, punish, postpone, or limit abortion before viability or when required to preserve the patient's health, as judged by the healthcare professional, according to the amendment.

In early pregnancy, viability means the chance of miscarriage drops dramatically, usually by 14 weeks. Usually between 20 and 24 weeks gestation, a baby is viable outside the mother's womb.

Political and legal viability has traditionally defined embryonic survival outside the womb since Roe v. Wade in 1973.

It also states that the amendment does not violate the state's constitutional requirement requiring parental notice of minors' medical treatments. However, anti-abortion campaigners distinguish between parental “notification” and “consent” when a minor requests an abortion.

Despite opponents' claims that the amendment breached the state's single-issue requirement for all constitutional amendments, the court concluded it focused on a single topic.

“The proposed amendment aims to limit government interference with abortion. The majority ruling states that State and municipal governments may ‘interfere[]with’ one topic.

When the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the state's lawsuit against the amendment in January, the petition to place it on the ballot had over 1.5 million signatures, above the threshold.

Arizona, Missouri, and Florida are among nine states considering abortion rights amendments. In Iowa, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Maine, abortion rights campaigners are also pushing to add abortion rights amendments on their November ballots.

Political science professor Charles Zelden of Nova Southeastern University told Miami news source WPLG that the amendment would increase bipartisan voter turnout. Zelden expected pro-abortion people to vote more for the amendment.

"The pro side benefits more because these initiatives are likely to attract casual voters," Zelden added.


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