Florida Supreme Court Justices Will Decide Whether Abortion Rights Amendment Gets on the 2024 Ballot
Florida - February 8, 2024: The 7 Justices on the Florida Supreme Court will now decide whether a proposed abortion rights amendment to the state constitution should be placed on the November ballot.
The State's high court heard arguments from both sides Wednesday. The proposed amendment would limit the state from interfering in a woman's right to choose an abortion.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody maintains that the word "viability" in the amendment is ambiguous. Nathan Forrester, a lawyer representing her Office, argued that the language of the amendment is deceptive, and voters would not realize just how far it will expand access to abortion. If approved by voters Forrester said the amendment would eliminate the state's authority to regulate abortions.
Attorney Courtney Brewer, representing Floridians Protecting Freedom which led the petition drive to get the amendment on the ballot, countered that the word "viability" is already well defined in state law, and voters are aware of the meaning of the word. She accused Attorney General Moody of playing politics, instead of letting voters decide whether to protect access to abortions.
The summary of the proposed amendment states: "No law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider.” ” It provides one exception, already in the state constitution, and that is that parents must be notified before their minor child can get an abortion.
Last month the Florida Division of Elections confirmed that supporters of the amendment had gathered enough valid signatures on petitions to place the amendment on the ballot and they designated it Amendment #4 on the 2024 General Election Ballot, pending review by the State Supreme Court. Floridians Protecting Freedom gathered nearly 1 million voter signatures, well more than the 891,523 needed to make the ballot.
The role of the Florida Supreme Court now is not to rule on the content of the proposed amendment, but to decide whether the language of it is focused on a single subject, and whether voters will understand what they're voting on.
If the State Supreme Court approves the language and permits the proposed amendment to be placed on the ballot, then 60% of Florida voters would have to approve it.