Apr 2, 2024 - News

Abortion ban sets stakes for ballot effort

Illustration of a hand casting a ballot in the shape of a red cross

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Advocates are confident that Florida's Supreme Court decision to allow the state's near-total abortion ban to take effect could boost their effort to enshrine reproductive rights in the state's constitution.

Why it matters: Republicans hold a supermajority in Florida's legislature and have leveraged that to chip away at abortion access — first to 15 weeks, then to six weeks. Now, voters will have a chance to weigh in.

  • Abortion opponents called the high court's decision to greenlight the ballot effort "disappointing," adding that if it succeeds, Florida will become "the most pro-abortion state in the southern U.S."

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

  • They hit the signature threshold needed to trigger a state Supreme Court review of the ballot question in September, and gathered enough to make the ballot this January.
  • Yesterday, the high court approved the ballot question — but also upheld the 15-week ban, a ruling that triggers the six-week ban in 30 days.
  • The amendment would protect access to abortion until fetal viability, which is generally around 24–28 weeks of pregnancy.

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, director for the Yes on 4 campaign, which sponsored the amendment, 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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