Jan 5, 2024 - Health

Florida abortion rights initiative reaches ballot threshold

Activists protest 6-week abortion ban on Monday, April 3, 2023, near the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida.

Activists protest 6-week abortion ban on Monday, April 3, 2023, near the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida. Photo: The Washington Post / Getty Images

A coalition of Florida abortion rights supporters surpassed the required number of signatures needed to put a referendum on next year's ballot, according to the latest data from the state Division of Elections.

Why it matters: If advocates succeed in enshrining abortion rights in Florida's constitution through the ballot measure, it would have massive implications for reproductive health care across the South.

Details: The proposed amendment reads, "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."

  • The state validated 910,946 signatures as of Friday. Advocates needed only 891,523 to make the ballot.

Yes, but: Whether the amendment will end up in front of voters hinges on the state's conservative Supreme Court, which has until April to decide if it'll approve the language for use on the ballot.

  • Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a legal brief in November asking the high court to kill the amendment, arguing that its use of the term "viability" is an attempt to "hoodwink" voters.
  • The court is scheduled to hear arguments on that case on Feb. 7.
  • If approved, the abortion referendum will need support from 60% of voters to succeed.

Between the lines: Abortion rights have won every time they've been on the ballot since Roe v. Wade was overturned last summer. But getting there, in some cases, is more of a challenge.

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