Updated Apr 1, 2024 - News

Florida high court clears way for six-week abortion ban, OKs ballot measure

People march together to protest the Supreme Court's decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health case on June 24, 2022 in Miami, Florida.

People march together to protest the Supreme Court's decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health case on June 24, 2022 in Miami, Florida. Photo: Allison Dinner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Abortion rights will be on Florida ballots this November. But before that, a ban on the procedure after six weeks will take effect.

Why it matters: The ballot effort cleared Florida's conservative Supreme Court on Monday, and advocates are one step closer to enshrining access to the procedure until fetal viability in the state's constitution.

  • The court also decided against halting the state's 15-week abortion ban, which clears the way for a statewide ban on most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy to take into effect.
  • Abortion rights have won every time they've been on a ballot since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Catch up quick: Abortion rights supporters began collecting signatures for the ballot effort nearly a year ago, a month after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a six-week abortion ban into law.

The fine print: The 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 big picture: If the effort is successful, it could have massive implications for reproductive health care in the South, where nearby states have bans that have forced abortion clinics to close.

  • The six-week ban was contingent on the state Supreme Court upholding the legality of the 15-week ban currently in effect — which it did on Monday.
  • The new ban will go into effect in 30 days, per the law.

What they're saying: "Today's rulings prove exactly what is at stake at the ballot box," Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried said. "Florida is now home to one of the strictest abortion bans in the country."

  • "Floridians value their freedom from government interference," Lauren Brenzel, Yes on 4's campaign director, said in a statement. "They will make that known loud and clear with their votes in November."

The other side: "Today's victory for unborn children who have a heartbeat and can feel pain is in line with the views of the majority of Floridians," Katie Daniel of SBA Pro-Life America said.

  • "We are very disappointed that a deceptively worded pro-abortion amendment is allowed to appear on Florida's ballot in November," Republican Party of Florida Chairman Evan Power said.

What's next: The ballot measure to alter the constitution needs support from 60% of voters to succeed.

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