Nov 9, 2023 - Health

What abortion rights victories mean for Florida

A large group of people cheer and clap, with some holding up signs.

Abortion rights supporters celebrate winning the referendum in Ohio. Photo: Megan Jelinger/AFP via Getty images

Abortion rights won big in Tuesday's elections, Axios' Caitlin Owens and Stef W. Kight report. Florida abortion rights advocates are optimistic the trend could continue here β€” if the issue makes it onto next year's ballot.

State of play: An effort to enshrine abortion access in the Florida Constitution has steadily gained signatures since launching in May.

  • But Attorney General Ashley Moody is trying to kill the proposed amendment before voters have a chance to weigh in.

Why it matters: Moody's effort could prevent the Sunshine State from joining a trend: Voters across the country have flocked to the polls to save abortion access. Abortion rights have won every time they've been on the ballot since Roe v. Wade was overturned last summer.

Driving the news: That includes an abortion rights ballot initiative approved by Ohio voters Tuesday that's similar to the effort in Florida. The victory gave a boost to Floridians Protecting Freedom, the coalition behind the proposed amendment in Florida.

What they're saying: "Ohioans just demonstrated that they don't support politicians interfering in their private medical decisions, and Floridians are even more bold in their opposition to government interference in our private lives," campaign director Lauren Brenzel said in a statement.

  • Spokesman Damien Filer told Axios the group saw a bump in donations Wednesday but didn't provide specifics.

Catch up fast: In September, Floridians Protecting Freedom gathered enough signatures to trigger a state Supreme Court review of the ballot question's language.

  • Then, this month, Moody filed formal arguments with the court calling the measure's language a "misleading" attempt to "hoodwink" voters, the Florida Phoenix reported.

Zoom in: Moody took issue with the amendment's language prohibiting abortion restrictions before "viability" β€” a term she argued can have several meanings, the News Service of Florida reported.

  • Under Roe v. Wade, it was understood to mean 23 or 24 weeks of pregnancy. "Others," Moody wrote, "understand 'viability' in the more traditional clinical sense β€” as referring to a pregnancy that, but for an abortion or other misfortune, will result in the child's live birth."

The other side: Brenzel has called Moody's argument "disingenuous," arguing voters understand the meaning of viability and "will see right through this effort to silence their voice."

What's next: For the initiative to get on next year's ballot, the Supreme Court will have to approve the language, and Floridians Protecting Freedom will have to submit 891,523 signatures to the state by Feb. 1.

  • The state had received 552,630 as of Nov. 1, per the News Service of Florida.

Yes, and: We're still waiting for the state Supreme Court to rule on the validity of Florida's current 15-week abortion ban. A ruling in favor of the ban will pave the way for a six-week ban, passed earlier this year by Republican lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis, to go into effect.


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